Leadership Retreats Resources

Recognition: If You See It, Say It!

July 9, 2020
Lead Others
Teddy Sanders

Let’s start with our baseline: everyone desires recognition.

It could be a big, showy display or a simple pat on the back (socially distanced of course), but there is an inherent desire to be appreciated and thanked by the counterpart. Recognition allows someone to be fully appreciated for what they bring to the table, whether that is a job well done or impacting someone’s life. Adam Grant, best-selling author and top-rated professor at the Wharton School, speaks to the importance of “givers” to the success of an organization and how to best create a culture of generosity; recognition is a vital component of being a giver.

Recognition is more than a name on a plaque or even an extra bonus check (though those are certainly nice to have). According to Ceren Cubukcu and William Craig, recognition helps to build trust, enables greater happiness, increases engagement (whether that is in a job or relationship), and shows the appreciation of the leaders around them.

So much of the culture today centers around results-driven recognition. This does a disservice to those who are interpersonally driven; it should be a balance between results and relationships. The opportunity for recognition starts at the onset of a relationship and should go hand-in-hand with results being achieved.

It is important to honor that some people are driven by interpersonal connections, while some are driven by results.

People Are Driven in One of Two Ways

Relationships -or- Results

Defined -vs- Seen & Heard

We have a desire to actually be seen and heard for who we are and what we have done. We are often defined by the most recent thing we have done, whether positive or negative, because it is the most immediate, rather than the larger influence we have on others and the collective body of work we can produce.  There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to be “understood” regardless of what the DiSC, Enneagram, MBTI, or IPSAT says; these are frameworks to work within, not definitions. 

We do not come with instruction manuals, so let us interact based on the hope of being known.

Here at WinShape Teams, when someone transitions out of the team, we place them on the “hot seat”. This is a time where we get to say what has really impressed us about this person and what we will truly miss about what they brought to the team. In short, it is our communal attempt to capture and express the legacy of who they are and the impact they have had in our organization. It is a time for us to speak life into them. 

Every time we have a hot seat, I walk away renewed, knowing that people see us for who we really are. We have taken this approach to our Client Relationship and Marketing teams as well in our weekly “Pulse meetings”, where we discuss what is going on here at work and what is going on at home to see where the margin in each other’s lives may be. It allows us to speak life into one another as often as we can and ask deep follow-up questions, in order to celebrate one another’s uniqueness. 

Celebrate the Uniqueness of the Individuals on the Team

It is important to recognize people in a way that will be honoring to them rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. We all have different stories that have led us to this point and we need to embrace being seen and heard.

In a previous role, I was recognized as a top performer within the organization. While the plaque was very nice, I was honestly prouder of the team’s accomplishment of crushing the previous yearly goal by 25%. My manager always said I was prouder of the name on the front of the jersey than any name on the back and that is still true today. When we celebrate the unique traits of the people who make up the team, we are able to see the mission accomplished with excellence rather than just numbers being met. 

When we see something that we appreciate and recognize for the betterment of the team, we need to speak to that directly. We have been given the opportunity to speak truth and life into each other’s lives, so we should take that opportunity as an honor for one another. We shouldn’t hold back those words of life, rather when you see it, say it (pardon the Southern turn of phrase). All of these things come together and are necessary for recognition; they are vital components in honoring communication. 

Growth sometimes means coming to hard realizations and for me, today, I have seen that I need to be one who recognizes others more often and much louder. I want to be one who, more often than not, can be someone who speaks those words that the other person has been needing to hear, not just here at work, but in my family life as well. I plan on starting small by recognizing someone within my team daily for the impact and influence they have on our team and my daily life, as well.

Practical Ways to Recognize Others

01 Take Notes

Have regular conversations with individuals on your team. When you hear someone mention something they like or that was fulfilling for them, make a note of it on your phone.

Later, you can recognize them with something you know they'll enjoy!

02 Pay Intentional Attention

Carve out time on a regular basis (set a calendar reminder, if needed!) to consider each individual on your team. What are they going through — professionally and personally? How can you encourage and/or support them? Follow through with it!

03 Question of the Day

Discuss things outside of the "normal" with your team. Every zoom call with our computer cameras starts with "how are you doing?" which can feel over-utilized and typically produces only small talk. Rather, try asking a super random question to encourage engagement. Here are a few examples that may spark some creative thinking for more:

• What was your AIM/MSN username?
• Who do you want to have real in-person coffee with RIGHT NOW?
• How much does someone have to pay you/barter with you to help them move?
•What's something you've read recently that made you say "whoa"?

04 Hold "Pulse" Meetings

I mentioned above that we hold weekly "Pulse meetings" at WinShape Teams to understand the health of each individual's head and heart. This helps us know better how everyone is showing up to work that week, and how we can support each other throughout the week.

Add The Pulse to your calendar and check out this resource for more detail on how to run these meetings.

Your Turn to Recognize Others

Who in your life, both personally and professionally, needs to be recognized louder?

Who on your team needs to be seen and heard today for what they bring to your life?

See Recognition in Action

Watch our Documentary, For The Team, to see how a world championship team sees and hears one another during a grueling adventure race.