The Power of Recognition

By | 2017-01-13T13:42:18+00:00 December 2nd, 2010|Categories: Respectful Workplace|Tags: |3 Comments

Yesterday I spent a good deal of my day struggling with an article for my monthly client e-newsletter. I had what I thought was a good idea. However, as sometimes happens, the more I wrote, the less I wrote, and the less I progressed. By about 4 pm I was feeling quite frustrated and discouraged.

Now I don’t know about you, but at times like those it is easy for that demon of doubt and negativity to capture my attention. Why am I struggling with this? I have so much else to do. I send these out into cyberspace every month, and while I always get a few comments, at the end of the day does anyone really care? Would they even know the difference if these monthly reminders of the importance of respect at work stopped coming into their inboxes?

I kid you not, but within 5 minutes my phone rang. It was a former colleague from my airlines days, a very accomplished professional I have always respected and admired, who I had contacted earlier looking for some information for a client. He gave me the information I had requested and then asked how things were going. “Fine” I lied. Then to my great surprise he said “I read your articles every month. Whenever they come in, my wife always makes sure to let me know. You obviously put a lot of thought into them.”

I put down the phone elated, completely renewed and inspired. That small piece of positive feedback; one person that I respect and admire telling me that my work matters to him, was all I needed to reconnect to my purpose and get back to writing.

Recently, I was meeting with an HR professional who was asking about ideas for non-monetary recognition. The company had traditionally given bonuses to recognize performance. This year, economic times being what they are, they were not in a position to do that.

Being a single parent and sole earner running my own business, I very much understand the importance of financial compensation. However, study after study has shown that more money does not necessarily mean better performance. Nor does it build loyalty and allegiance to an organization.

Rather it is the daily practice of recognition – the thank you’s , great job, we couldn’t have gotten here without your input, you are a valued member of this team – that inspire many of us to want to continue making an effort. Let’s face it, whatever our job, task or profession, we want to know that what we are doing matters. We all want to know that others appreciate the effort we make. And unless someone is doing that on a regular basis, chances are we won’t feel valued or appreciated, which often translates to a lack of motivation and the inevitable drop in productivity.

Letting a colleague or team member know that their work matters costs nothing, but can reap great benefits, not only for your workplace relationships but for your organizational bottom line. It is one simple way to demonstrate respect, to translate that value into action so that it becomes a behavioural norm.

How does your organization recognize good work? What workplace practices are in place to ensure that employees know when they are succeeding, and that their contribution is making a difference? How often do they get positive, affirming feedback? Have they had an opportunity to let you know what meaningful recognition would look like to them?

Now is the time to start asking these kinds of questions in your workplace. Every organization should be working to retain and motivate talent. Why not harness the power of recognition to assist your organization in becoming the respectful workplace great employees love to work in.

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About the Author:

Erica Pinsky
Erica Pinsky, B.A., M.Sc, CHRP, is an engaging and inspirational speaker, author and consultant working with organizations to build respectful and inclusive workplace cultures that attract and retain quality employees. Erica’s book, Road to Respect, Path to Profit gives companies a road map to success in today’s challenging business climate. For more information, visit


  1. Paul Meshanko December 2, 2010 at 3:11 pm

    Nicely written, Erica. We ALWAYS appreciate your thoughts and ideas!!

  2. Derek Irvine, Globoforce December 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm

    Erica, brilliant post. I’m quite glad I’ve found this blog now and have quite a bit of catch-up reading to do, I see. You’re right, it takes so little for us to stop, notice and appreciate the efforts of those around us, but the impact is tremendous. Knowing that our work matters, that others value it, that we helped achieve a goal bigger than ourselves — those are desires as old as humanity itself.

    And this is not a “soft-skill” to be discounted by the managerial types. Our clients have proven recognition, applied strategically, consistently increases employee engagement by double digits — in less than a year. That’s a significant contribution to a company’s bottom line.

    The Respectful Workforce team may be interested in our recent book, Winning with a Culture of Recognition, in which we talk about this and how company leaders can proactively manage their company culture through recognition.

  3. Chris Young December 6, 2010 at 9:08 am

    Great post Erica! It is amazing how the smallest gestures can have such a profound impact on one’s work efforts!

    I have shared your post with my readers in my Rainmaker ‘Fab Five’ blog picks of the week (found here: to remind them of how powerful tokens of recognition like the one you shared above can be.

    Be well!

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