Strengthening Teams Through Recognition

For customers to consistently feel understood and appreciated, staff must consistently feel understood and appreciated.

While leaders and managers usually intend to listen to and recognize team members, those intentions often get lost amid daily challenges and demands. In the classic book, “The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their Employees, Retain Talent, and Accelerate Performance,” Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton suggest that:

Companies that recognize excellence enjoy a return on equity (ROE) more than triple that of those with poor recognition practices. Additionally, managers who effectively recognize employee contributions typically see higher employee satisfaction, retention, and customer satisfaction levels.

Given the importance of developing a recognition culture. Here are a few actionable takeaways for leaders and team members to consider:

1. Value Peer-to-Peer Recognition

  • Empower All Employees:Recognition should not be solely the responsibility of managers. Encourage peers to recognize each other’s achievements.
  • Immediate Recognition: Implement systems where employees can quickly and easily acknowledge each other’s efforts, fostering an environment of continuous positive reinforcement.

2. Scale Rewards for Both Individuals and Teams

  • Individual and Team Recognition:Balance recognition between individual achievements and team efforts.
  • Foster Collaboration:While individual awards can motivate employees, they can also lead to unhealthy competition.

3. Leverage Social Aspects of Recognition

  • Create Socially Engaging Programs: Effective reward programs involve social elements, such as public acknowledgments or nominations. This approach highlights achievements and builds a sense of community.
  • Utilize Social Platforms: Use company intranets, social media, or bulletin boards to celebrate employee successes, making recognition a visible and celebrated part of your organizational culture.

4. Emphasize the Enterprise-Wide Importance of Rewards

  • Universal Participation: Ensure that recognition programs are accessible to all levels of the organization, from frontline staff to executives. Reinforce the idea that every role is valuable and appreciated.
  • Consistency Across the Company: Develop a cohesive recognition strategy that aligns with your company’s values and goals, ensuring all employees feel valued and motivated.

5. Focus on Intrinsic Over Extrinsic Rewards

  • Meaningful Acknowledgement: While high-cost rewards can be impactful, the most meaningful recognitions are often personal and heartfelt. Handwritten notes, certificates, or verbal acknowledgments can significantly boost morale.
  • Sustain Intrinsic Motivation: Extrinsic rewards can sometimes diminish intrinsic motivation. Focus on creating a culture of acknowledgment where the primary reward is the recognition itself rather than material incentives.

To learn more about strengthening your team through recognition, please get in touch with me at

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Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D. is a professional speaker and chief experience officer at The Michelli Experience. A New York Times #1 bestselling author, Dr. Michelli and his team consult with some of the world’s best customer experience companies.

Follow on Twitter: @josephmichelli

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