Why You Should Recognize Effort, Not Just Results
How many of these situations do you recognize in your life?
- Applauding a child’s attempt on the soccer field, or in their art project they brought home.
- Cheering a performer in spite of an off-cue, missed juggle, or miffed line.
- Thanking a neighbor for their offer of help, even if it didn’t turn out the way you wanted.
- Praising a dog when the behavior you want is close to what you want them to be.
We seamlessly recognize efforts made in the personal areas of our lives. But at times there is a great disconnect with recognizing the efforts of people that we lead. Why do leaders fall short on this important aspect of developing people?
There are many rationales that we can come up with for not recognizing an earnest effort in the workplace. Some of them include:
- “I’m too busy to recognize every effort someone gives”
- “When the job is done to satisfaction, then they’ll receive my recognition”
- “We’re about results here”
- “I need to focus my efforts on the bottom line”
Let’s look back at the first four situations at the beginning for a moment. We praise and recognize those efforts because we are trying to lead and promote a certain behavioral outcome. Our experience says that if we create an environment of recognition, we can over time get a better effort and eventually a desired outcome.
These principles we apply to life are the same principles that will effectively connect with your people in your company to achieve better results. If we recognize the effort behind the outcome, whether a resounding success or an epic fail, we can cultivate a culture of continuous and organic improvement that leads to better eventual outcomes.
Here are some effective and simple ways to recognize your team’s efforts:
- Acknowledge the hard work and hours they put into a project
- Give a sincere “thank you” for the day’s work
- Praise the effort publicly (in person, in a newsletter, through company intranet, etc)
- Give a hand-written note or card
- Ask them what they learned and gained from the effort, and ask what they’ll do with that knowledge in the next project
While it’s impossible to recognize every effort made every day, a leader who is well connected with their people will know the most effective times to recognize someone’s effort in order to have the biggest impact.
Take time out to recognize the effort behind every outcome.
Have a story of recognition to share? Leave your story below!