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Marketing Viewpoint by Ruth Winett

Getting Recognition and Giving Praise Appropriately

When I was an MBA student, Tom, one of our study group, would sweep into group meetings an hour late, contribute little, take furious notes, and then offer up the group's conclusions in class. It was "All for Tom; Tom for one...." We have all worked with people like Tom who piggyback on others' hard work. How do you make sure that you receive proper recognition for your efforts? Conversely, how do you adequately praise your co-workers and subordinates?


Receiving recognition

Following are six tips to help you receive the recognition you deserve.

  • Volunteer to work on high priority or highly visible tasks that you know you can do well.
  • Inform your boss and co-workers what you are working on. Provide occasional project updates. Share successes and even failures (see below).
  • Take a leadership role in group projects, and make sure the work is done well and on time.
  • Put your name on work you have done and reports you have authored.
  • Speak up in a non-confrontational way when someone else tries to take credit for your efforts. A colleague suggested using language, such as, "Thank you for building upon the work our department has done." Or, "Thank you for reaffirming what I said earlier."
  • Help to create an environment where people feel secure in their jobs and are respectful of each other and each other's accomplishments. 
  • Link recognition of individuals and group performance. Talk about individual contributions to the success of the group. McCannon and Jain report that the National Hockey League rates players according to how well their teams perform when each player is playing. [This is in stark contrast with using batting averages to rate baseball players.]
  • Reward outcomes, not length of service or other secondary achievements. Johns Hopkins rewards physicians for finding ways to improve patient outcomes rather than on the number of publications they have generated. I wonder what would happen if academics were evaluated on their teaching ability, not their publications?
  • "Embrace risk-taking and failure." Little innovation occurs in organizations that always take the safe approach. When something fails, hold a "hotwash" session in which the group extracts lessons learned, recommend McCannon and Jain.
  • Hire people with a record of achievement rather than people who merely have prestigious degrees.

Finally, recognition should be deserved. Praise should be sincere; it should be specific; and it should be timely. Replace "Nice job" with "You did a great job helping the customer master our new software version." But, be sincere.

Copyright © 9/14  Ruth Winett. All rights reserved.  

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