by Roy Saunderson | April 15, 2014
If there’s one thing that ruins recognition giving in the workplace it is failing to take advantage of the chance to appreciate people. There are too many lost opportunities for praising and recognizing those we work with. In fact, we often get in the way of valuing those we claim are most important to us. Evaluate yourself against these Top 10 Don’ts and commit to improving your recognition of employees and peers.
1. Don’t be so rigid. Yes, you have a recognition program with specified nomination criteria, but it could overlook what Mary or John just did for you. Acknowledge Mary or John the best way you can and don’t let system variables dictate appreciation.
2. Don’t be impersonal. It’s OK to stop working for a moment to bring staff together for the purpose of sharing personal words of appreciation for everyone’s contributions. Speak from the heart and express your feelings about each person’s actions. Give of yourself and you’ll make people smile.
3. Don’t rely on technology. Emails are nice and so are e-cards -- once in a while. Even social recognition spreads the good word among others. But make sure you build in face-to-face time with people and one-on-one time for positive feedback.
4. Don’t neglect saying thanks. It's easy to take things for granted, such as colleagues staying late and going the extra mile. Never let these actions go unnoticed, and know that a sincere spoken or written thank you is always valued.
5. Don’t let a day go by. If you ever let a day pass without expressing your gratitude towards someone, giving a small token of appreciation for kindnesses rendered, or praising an employee or peer for exceptional work, you’ve lost more than just a day.
6. Don’t forget to write. With the dominance of texting, emailing, and social media, cursive writing is becoming a lost art. A handwritten thank you note has never diminished in importance, and is appropriate when you've established a positive relationship with someone.
7. Don’t hog the time. Make sure you let employees get a chance to say a word or two in meetings. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Let others give their ideas and show their creativity in problem solving and in coming up with innovative solutions. Time is so very easy to give to people.
8. Don’t delay acting. When someone’s name comes to mind in the middle of the day, call him or her up or think about what you should do for them. Even take time out at the beginning of a day to think about which employees you should send an email or card to. 
9. Don’t stop giving. Some people think you can give too much recognition. They’re mistakenly thinking of tangible rewards, which can in fact be overextended. But a genuine, sincere expression of acknowledgment when authentically given can never be given enough times.
10. Don’t make a scene. When recognition ends up not being given properly, whether by a manger or a peer, don’t take it out on them or the company. Instead, take a hint from Princess Elsa of "Frozen" fame and learn to “Let It Go”! Vow to never personally make the same mistake.
Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Real Recognition Way and Chief Learning Officer of Rideau’s Recognition Management Institute, a consulting a training company which helps leaders and managers get recognition right. He can be reached at [email protected] . Also, check out the library of Real Recognition Radio shows.