• Edwin Lemke

Use an employee recognition programme

Aktualisiert: 24. Apr 2018


Appreciation and recognition are practised by experienced leaders. Why is it difficult for others? And how to appreciate remote workers?


A couple of weeks ago Swati Gangawane Gujar from the BRAVO project asked me some interesting questions; some of them seem to be easy to answer for me -

as the professional trainer - , some were quite surprising and more difficult.

But for sure, I liked all of them!


So let me share some of my thoughts about recognition and appreciation.


Q: In your book ‘Learning Appreciation in Business’ you have said that ‘Appreciative behaviour is often scarce because many of us are unsure about how best to show others our appreciation.’ What are the causes of this uncertainty and how can it be overcome, especially at an organisation-wide scale?

Edwin Lemke: I believe that this uncertainty is growing in a kind of company culture where lean management and growing effectiveness have been the leading factors during the last decades. During those years appreciation might be a sign of softness and not effective. Giving appreciation was rare – so we are simply not accustomed to handle it. And when I once get the feedback ‘Emails saying thank you are inefficient and unnecessary’, I shall doubt whether I´ll send a similar mail again.

Responsible leaders should give positive examples in their organization. Clear recommendations should exist. Communication helps to figure out what works and what is accepted in the group.

In Germany companies might also hire Feel Good Managers who take care for employees´ problems and wishes; again, of course, they need the strong support from their bosses to develop a culture of appreciation, well-being and recognition.


Did you know:
In Germany, companies hire Feel Good Managers to better take care of their employees

Q: What tips would you give leaders who understand the value of an appreciation culture at work but are unsure about how to make it work?

Edwin Lemke: Find examples. You are in the middle of good examples and experiences. Read books (ok: Learning Appreciation in Business also gives a lot of examples), search the internet, for example http://www.appreciationatwork.com/ .

Participate at trainings and enhance your knowledge and your abilities. Give an example. Start small. Be patient. Explain. Talk. And listen. And start again.


‘Opposite to appraisals, peer-to-peer recognitions offer often and timely feedback.’

Q: Why have performance appraisals failed to elicit better performances from employees? Does this failure explain the rise of peer-to-peer workplace recognition initiatives? 

Edwin Lemke: Unfortunately, there is plenty of room for some shortcomings during appraisals: Leaders have not enough time for specific preparation – they are not well informed about or used to a structured interview – they are not clear and positive in giving constructive feedback – they are not accustomed to define positive and verifiable goals – they fall into traps as perceptual distortions and halo effect – they compare personal results with results from others.

In opposite to appraisals peer-to-peer recognitions offer often and timely feedback – they offer equal opportunities to give and receive feedback – they offer to win the respect of peers – they use the daily offers from social media to encourage and to increase engagement.

So yes, all in all the difficulties and problems with performance appraisals might at least influence the rise of peer-to-peer workplace recognitions.


Q: In your article ‘When silence is not golden’ you talk about negative feedback and how it can be constructive rather than no feedback at all. Isn’t trust a vital part of this process? Without it wouldn’t negative feedback have an impact on employee morale?  

Edwin Lemke: Interesting thought. I think I have an idea of the situation you have in mind. So yes, trust will also help through a situation with no feedback or communication at all – I can imagine that in a trustful relationship this also can be acceptable and productive at the end. And yes, negative feedback has a negative impact on employee´s motivation.

Though, besides this specific trustful situation, in general we know that human beings need contact and communication. So just in this general sense it is meant that an even negative feedback is healthier than no communication at all.


‘The main problems for remote workers are loneliness and lack of recognition.’

Q: Remote working has changed the way employee appreciation works. How do you think remote workers could be appreciated for the work that they do?

Edwin Lemke: I think that the main problems for remote workers are loneliness and lack of recognition.

So, managers can:

  • Contact colleagues not only by phone and email, but also via Skype

  • Order that the employee must also appear regularly in the office

  • Make it clear that the Home Office scheme is initially used only as a reward – as part of a promotion or instead of a salary increase – so that the effect does not evaporate too quickly

  • Take extra care to make sure that the Home office worker is always considered and informed – at celebrations, at newsletters, at meetings

And also, the manager should make sure that no additional overtime is required, or that it is done voluntarily, out of fear of being a loafer. Again, communication is helpful.


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You can find the whole interview at BRAVO Insights.


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