Give an “A” for effort

by | Aug 19, 2013 | Blog | 0 comments

A for effortThanking peers and direct reports for their efforts—not just their resultsis a healthy habit.

When you acknowledge individuals for taking steps, you:

  • Encourage them to stay focused and take more steps.
  • Put them in a quieter, more positive brain state, which contributes to better thinking and performance.
  • Make yourself more aware of what these individuals are doing to advance your initiative, which puts you in a more positive state too.  

This is another example of the disconnect between what we know about the brain or at least scientists know) and what we do in organizations.

The workplace ranked dead last among places people express gratitude, according to The Wall Street Journal’s article “Showing Appreciation at the Office? No, Thanks” reporting on research by the John Templeton Foundation. Only 10% of adults say thank you to a colleague each day.

Yet, acknowledgement can pay big dividends.

Just look at these initial survey write-in comments about what people like best about peer collaboration and recognition:

  • “It is the most natural and least threatening way of gaining information, insight and support.”
  • “Enhances relationship building and connectivity.”
  • “Encouragement and improvement.”

By the way, this survey on peer practices at work is still open.  Please go to and contribute to the research. This is not peer pressure; instead, it’s my request to help us better understand the prevalence and type of peer practices and what types of work environments help them flourish. For more information, check out Practice the power of peer-to-peer.

Unfortunately, some people don’t see the value in recognizing effort. I get push back from some of my coaching clients and other clients about acknowledging for effort. They tell me:

  • “I don’t want to be inauthentic in my praise.” (They want results, dammit.)
  • “I don’t want to send the wrong signals.” (They want results, dammit.)
  • “I’m not a pushover.” (They want results, dammit.)

Please. You don’t have to go over the top to recognize individuals for their efforts. And you shouldn’t.

Instead, try these three tips:

  • Be specific. Thank for the person for the particular effort they made, nothing more, and nothing else. For example, say “Thank you for setting up the meeting.” Don’t say “Thanks! Great job!” or “Thanks.”
  • Be timely. Acknowledge the person for his effort as soon as you notice it.
  • Be personal. Adopt the platinum rule and recognize people the way they want to be recognized. For example, would they like public recognition on LinkedIn as the peer and employee recognition cloud service MeritShare can provide? Or do they prefer an in-person “thanks” from you?  The personalization of the recognition shows sincerity on your part as well as acknowledgement of who they are.

For more on the topic, check out Master the 3 R’s: recognize, reinforce and reward.

As I tell my clients, don’t worry about grade inflation around recognition. The more recognition the better.

What’s your experience as a giver and receiver of recognition?


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *