“Dare to be … Recognition drives human behaviour and your profits”

A survey of more than 200,000 managers and employees over a 10-year period showed that recognition is a proven way to engage your employees, reduce staff turnover, boost productivity, and increase customer satisfaction. The research shows that great managers lead with carrots, not sticks and in doing so achieve higher:

  • Productivity
  • Engagement
  • Retention
  • Customer Satisfaction

What’s more, the study shows that companies that effectively praise and recognise their staff are much more profitable. Organizations that scored in the lowest 25% for recognition had an average Return on Equity of just 2.4 percent, whereas those that scored in the top 25% had an average ROE more than 3 times higher!

To create the best results, praise and recognition will be most effective when it meets the following criteria:

Click here to review the 5 ways that you can best give recognition to drive business performance

  1. Make it Positive.

Remembering a person’s past negative behaviours and speaking about how much better they have become is not recommended (e.g. “You used to a real pain in the neck to work with, but you’ve been a lot nicer to be around lately”). Giving praise and recognition is not the time to bring up past errors.

For your praise to have maximum effect, make sure to just point out their positive behaviours. (e.g. “I really appreciate the effort you made to engage with the team at the meeting today. It was nice to see you smiling and taking an interest in people”)

  1. Do it Now.

Catch people doing things right, and let them know straight away. The sooner you give the praise and recognition to when the actual performance occurs, the better. Don’t wait until their next performance review.

In terms of frequency, Gallup research suggests that you look for opportunities to praise each of your team members for doing something right at least once per week if you want to increase employee engagement and motivation.

  1. Focus on Observed Behaviours (not the person’s character).

Don’t make statements about the person (e.g. “You are really smart” or “You are a hard worker”). It is much more effective to focus on their observed actions and commend the specific behaviours you want to see reinforced (e.g. “I was impressed with the research you did on this project, and the long hours you put in to get the report done on time”).

Interestingly, research shows that this exact same approach is the best way to praise and coach your children as well.

  1. Give it Context.

Recognize the specific behaviours that reinforce your company Core Values, or comment on specific RESULTS that were achieved – e.g. a task being completed, progress on a Strategic Project, or a Key Performance Indicator Goal being exceeded.

  1. Share it Around.

Recognition and praise is best delivered in the environment where the actual performance occurred, ideally among the person’s peers. Alternatively, if you are in a virtual team make sure to send the team a notification of your praise being delivered. Let the whole team know when someone is doing a good job.

Note – we usually think of recognition as coming from the manager, but interestingly, it is recognition from our peers that often means the most to people.


If you want to increase employee engagement, look for opportunities to publicly praise your team members for doing something right at least once seven days.

Who do you need to praise right now?

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