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How Great Supervisors Use Employee Recognition To Improve Performance

In the groundbreaking bestseller, The Carrot Principle, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton show definitively how supervisors who provide frequent and effective recognition inspire employees to excel. In a similar study found in How Full Is Your Bucket?, Tom Rath and Donald Clifton demonstrate that employees who receive regular meaningful recognition and praise:

  • Increase their productivity
  • Increase engagement with their colleagues
  • Are more likely to stay with their organization
  • Have higher job satisfaction and morale

Both studies affirm that the central characteristic of effective supervision is a supervisor’s ability to recognize their direct reports’ talents and contributions in purposeful and meaningful ways. Yet, praise is rare in most workplaces. One poll found that 65% of employees reported receiving no recognition for good work in the past year.

Great Supervisors Create a Culture of Employee Recognition

Truly great supervisors have learned they can create a culture of employee recognition by using a variety of experiences, such as:

  • Daily Recognition: This include words of appreciation, handwritten thank you notes, lunches and rewards such as gift cards for a job well-done.
  • Above and Beyond Recognition: This includes a formal and usually public recognition of achievements that exceed expectations.
  • Personal and Career Recognition: This includes birthday and anniversary of hiring recognition and rewards.
  • Team Recognition: These group events reinforce organizational values and celebrate achievement of organizational or team goals and results.

For recognition, praise and rewards to be meaningful, individualization is the key. Great supervisors are effective in figuring out the best form of praise for each employee. To discover the kind of recognition an employee prefers, ask questions such as:

  • From whom do you most like to receive recognition and praise?
  • What type of recognition or praise do you like best? Public, private, written, or verbal?
  • What forms of recognition motivates you the most? Gift cards, a tangible gift, money, a new title, increased responsibilities?
  • What is the most meaningful recognition you have ever received?

Great supervisors also understand that employee recognition is a short-term need that has to be satisfied on an ongoing basis, at least weekly and preferably, daily.

Further, great supervisors understand that a lack of employee recognition and praise plays into a problematic psychological response….negativity and low morale.

In addition, great supervisors understand that teams as a whole should be recognized for sterling performance. Team recognition has a subtle sociological effect by connecting individuals to a group and making them feel good about the team.

Finally, great supervisors wake up each day thinking about how to creatively offer recognition and praise in a ways that make their employee’s feel appreciated and motivated.


Posted on April 4, 2017

Jim Baker

Jim is a Church Organizational Leadership and Management Coach, Consultant and Trainer. Throughout his career Jim has demonstrated a passion for showing Pastors and Ministers how to use organizational tools for church and personal growth and health.

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“For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see how well ordered you are and the strength of your faith in Christ.” Colossians 2:5