Showing appreciation and recognition for employees is essentially important in any organisation. However, it is no surprise that recognition and appreciation are commonly misunderstood and interchangeably used. There is a huge difference between these two important words, despite the common usage at workplace. It is crucial for leaders who wish to create strong employee engagement in their organisations to differentiate these two terms and use them appropriately.
What is recognition?
Employee recognition is positive acknowledgement on results or performance of employees, and this can be both through formal (award, bonus, promotion) and informal ways (handwritten ‘thank you’ note). Everyone wants a ‘pat on the back’ to make them feel good, and recognition is an excellent way to do so. However, there are some constraints to recognition that managers have to bear in mind.
Most of recognition is performance-based of past achievement, which make it conditional to get one. Besides, only a limited number of recognitions can be given at a time, making the employees become stressful to contend for a limited amount of ovation. In fact, major forms of recognition, promotions and raises for instance, are usually awarded by senior managers who have less contact with the bottom employees. Researchers from the London School of Economics found that financial incentives can actually backfire when it comes to motivating employees, which makes monetary award is least recommended method to motivate employees in this millennium age.
What is appreciation?
On the other hand, appreciation is about acknowledging the inherent worth of employees as a mortal. Appreciation is the foundation to build trust and connection between human beings, given colleagues, customers, managers or even partners. The best part is, appreciation does not cost even a single dollar. You just need to put your phone and pen away, and just genuinely listen to others. On top of that, always tell remarkable traits of others so they are constantly reminded they are good in something and actually, someone cares for them!
Appreciation or recognition then?
So, which one do we need to acknowledge employees? Does recognition worth more than appreciation as it offers more monetary compensation? Or appreciation is better as it fairly appreciates employees and there is no limited volume of it?
Reality is, both recognition and appreciation are essential and interdependent in a workplace. Recognition is about what people do whilst appreciation is about who they are as a person. The distinction exists as they are given for different reasons. For every success, there will be inevitable failures and challenges along the way. At times, tangible results may be unavailable. If the focus is entirely on praising positive outcomes, i.e. recognition, lots of opportunities to connect with and support team members, i.e. appreciation, are wasted.
It is time to do some homework. Make it a daily habit to constantly recognise and appreciate your colleagues, even for the tiniest effort they do on the day. Keep your eyes open and you will notice warmth changes in your department. Try it today!