Seven Tips for Getting the Recognition You Deserve

"Please, not another T-shirt!"I resent the money that's spent to purchase doodads. It could be spent much more wisely."Certificates of appreciation? I hate the damn things.

These are the comments of real employees who say they aren't receiving enough recognition at work, as told to Cindy Ventrice, in her book, "Make Their Day! Employee Recognition That Works."

Employee recognition - or lack thereof - is a problem that's been around forever, but seems to be rising in today's workplace. Only 40 percent of workers feel adequately rewarded or recognized by their supervisor, according to a national survey by Kepner-Tregoe, a Princeton-based management consulting firm.

"At one end of the spectrum is a workplace where people love to come to work. Employees are energetic, enthusiastic and highly productive," Ventrice writes. "At the other end, people seem to be going through the motions of their job, doing as little as possible and hating every minute of it."

Employees who receive regular recognition are more productive, rate higher on consumer satisfaction surveys, have increased co-worker engagement, have better safety records and are less likely to leave the organization, according to a 2004 Gallup poll.

Recognition that misses the mark

Thirty-five percent of employees leave their companies because of a lack of recognition, according to a 2005 survey. In fact, employees are even leaving because they simply aren't receiving the kind of recognition they want.

Employers often use awards, certificates, bonuses and prizes as their choice of recognition - but employees are looking for something more meaningful. While a tangible award is nice to have, more often than not, simple words of praise carry more weight.

Employees simply want to be seen and valued, says Ventrice, who is also an employee loyalty consultant. "One employee told me he would be happy if his boss even knew he existed. Another told me how much harder she worked when she had the cubicle outside her boss's office. She was intimidated, but visible," she says. "They want to know their work is meaningful."

While it's not too much to expect some recognition - at least an acknowledgement that your boss knows you exist - don't expect recognition identical to other employees, Ventrice says. An awards ceremony in your honor may not be your cup of tea, but for your co-worker down the hall, it might be a dream come true.

"If your boss knows what you prefer, you know what performance is required to receive that recognition, you perform to standards and you still don't get recognized, you need to address this with your manager," Ventrice says.

Get what you deserve

Feeling like you're still missing out on the recognition you merit at work? Follow these seven tips to get the appreciation you deserve from your bosses and co-workers.

1. Publicly congratulate your co-workers for their accomplishments.

Be sure to point out any accomplishments that might be a little off the manager's radar, Ventrice suggests. By complimenting others, hopefully one or more of these people will mention your contributions, too. Even if they don't, Ventrice says, praise them anyway - it will make it more palatable when you praise yourself.

"If it isn't always about you, people will be more willing to see self-recognition in a positive light."

2. Tell your boss what you've accomplished.

Be brief, to the point and do it privately, Ventrice says. Remember to share the credit.

"Most of the time, you didn't accomplish what you did in isolation," Ventrice says. "Others helped, even if it was by taking up the slack while you got the project done."

3. Ask for the tough assignments.

They will give you visibility while letting you grow, Ventrice says.

"If you're invisible, you aren't in the running for promotions, raises or new opportunities."

4. Ask for feedback.

Don't get defensive when it isn't all positive, Ventrice says. "Negative feedback can be recognition. If feedback is offered with good intentions and framed as a development tool, most employees appreciate learning the hard lessons," Ventrice writes in her book. "Thank him or her regardless."

5. Describe what you learned from an experience.

This turns the conversation into a development conversation rather than an opportunity to brag about you.

6. Have a conversation that describes the recognition that you would most like to earn.

This way, you aren't whining about the past, but looking toward the future.

7. Compliment your boss.

"Middle managers are the most under-recognized group out there. They are operating at a recognition deficit. Give them a little praise, show them a little appreciation, and they may recognize you and everyone else a little more frequently."

Next: Can Working Less Land You a Promotion? >>

Copyright 2007

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