In Engage2Excel’s last Real Recognition Conversation Series, we spoke to recognition expert, Roy Saunderson, to discover different ways of detecting employee’s recognition preferences. In the discussion, we covered why it is essential for recognition to be personal and how managers can identify their employee’s recognition style.
So, what can managers do to learn about their employee’s preferences?
Start by just asking. Leaders are looking every day for different ways to improve their managerial style. One question we often get about recognition is: how can someone identify their employee’s preferences? To which Roy replied, “Just ask.” It may seem simple, but the very first step to knowing someone is to get them talking. Over time, you will notice the more you ask questions, the better information you get about their language of appreciation. Show interest and be inquisitive. You’ll find out that with time you will know exactly how your employees like being recognized. Being a good listener and a good observer pays off.
If you are managing a team remotely, the task could be a little difficult. Remote teams are usually more disconnected and have limited face time. In this case, schedule 10 to 15 minutes with your employees individually to ask about their recognition preferences. Send them questions in advance that you will talk about during the meeting. Include questions about their interests, the type of recognition they like, and where they like being recognized.
What to look for when asking questions
Timing is everything. You may not notice it, but the time in which you give recognition matters. Some people prefer getting recognition right away, while others periodically. Knowing this makes an immense difference for the recognition giver, because it will give impact to the recognition. Some employees could be offended if they receive appreciation when the moment has already passed. However, other employees would prefer an email thanking them for their efforts at the end of a project or a week.
Choosing the perfect channel. Some people like handwritten notes, while other like eCards. Ask them which they will appreciate the most. Some may enjoy a tangible card to keep on their desks and think it is a nice gesture. In contrast, you might notice that someone environmentally conscious for example would opt for an eCard.
Create the right setting. Many people do not like getting recognition publicly. To know where you should recognize your employees, ask “How does getting recognition in public make you feel?” If they respond with feelings of anxiousness, nervousness or being uncomfortable, make sure you create a setting that is intimate. If it is a special occasion like an anniversary, gather two or three close colleagues to help you celebrate them.
Bring it one-step further. A fun way to thank employees is to give them a token of appreciation. Sometimes, a small gift communicates what words cannot say. When interviewing your employees about their recognition preferences, don’t forget to ask them about their hobbies, favorite restaurant or go-to snacks. To find the best gift for them, be creative and stay interested. In case of doubt, gifting employees their favorite selection of candy will always draw a smile on their face!
Knowing how your employees prefer to be recognized shows that you care as a leader, and you respect that not everyone has the same preference. Employee recognition preferences are fundamental when it comes to the overall career experience. Our research has shown that 89% of employees say receiving recognition for performance increases engagement and 85% say recognition makes them feel more valued. Understanding their likes and dislikes shows employees that you appreciate and value them. It allows employees to enjoy the opportunity they have while knowing their hard work is being recognized.
Download our guide to learn the recognition preferences of your employees.