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5 mistakes managers make when giving recognition

Published on 23 Jun 2021

From a very young age, we long for recognition from parents, teachers and friends. Our craving for positive affirmations is so strong that we can perceive neutral responses as negative.

This carries on through to the workplace. Employee recognition helps to encourage high performance, increase employee engagement and retain top talent. However, many organisations struggle with team and individual recognition, even the ones with a strong company culture.

Here are the most common mistakes managers make when giving recognition:

  1. No specifics or relevance. Recognition is most meaningful when tied to a specific accomplishment or business objective. It’s helpful for employees when there’s an explanation for the recognition so they can relate it to their behaviour and that will encourage continued strong performance.
  2. Too much time has passed. Recognition needs to be received promptly, otherwise, it is not as meaningful and authentic. The longer it takes for managers to recognise employees, the less effect it will have.
  3. It is always given in the same way. Research shows that people are motivated by more than just cash. There are many creative ways you can show appreciation, like taking them out for lunch or a personalised gift. Recognition works best when it comes as a surprise.
  4. Failing to give small recognitions. Little things go a long way and while it’s definitely important to recognise major accomplishments, everyday thank-yous and shout-outs encourage employees just as much.
  5. Leaving the bigger picture out of the picture. It’s important to be transparent and to share information about how the organisation is doing, for example how it’s striving to reach its mission. This helps employees understand what they are contributing to the organisation and how that turns into a success. It helps them to build an individual sense of security in their value to the company, which is highly motivational to continue to complete goals.

Are you still making these mistakes? Are your employees getting the right recognition? Stay tuned for more tips for recognition next week.

Here’s to managers who show employee appreciation!

PS: learn how your organisation can assimilate values.


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