by Roy Saunderson | October 14, 2012
It is almost Halloween, the season for ghosts, goblins, and of course, vampires. This top 10 list is inspired by Jon Gordon’s blog on how NFL coaches get their teams’ buy in. He recently shared how coach Jack Del Rio put a "No Energy Vampires Allowed" sign on his office door as a sign of his commitment to getting his team to buy in. By reading about that, I thought about how it's easy to see how we open doors to our organizations and let recognition walk right out of sight. So, make an effort to stop these 10 vampires from sucking the recognition right out of your midst with these recognition giving ideas.
1. A Lousy Environment
You can even feel the spooky unwelcome feelings in the air of some workplaces. Buoy up the atmosphere with positive greetings to people. Solicit input from employees on what everyone needs to do to make your company a great place to work. Do something within five days to prove it.

2. Unaddressed Dissatisfiers 
Psychologist Frederick Herzberg said it years ago: If you don’t manage  the pay, benefits, working conditions, interpersonal relations, and job security properly, no amount of appreciation, recognition and rewards will change how people feel about their work. Get human resources to present the latest rewards to employees, and have leaders share the state of the company with employees on a regular basis.

3. Universal Negativity
The biggest blood suckers of recognition are negative attitudes, toxic bosses, and poor perceptions of recognition. Put a hand up to stop people from speaking negatively. Do something or be quiet. Call out inappropriate behaviors and say why they are not appreciated. Educate people on the positive impact and ROI of recognition.

4. Complete Unfairness
It can happen so easily. If you don’t establish clear criteria and guidelines, good people can fall through the cracks. Aside from good recognition practices, make sure people are using programs properly and not gaming the system. When recognition is not carried out fairly, a lot of other things get put into question, too.

5. Pure Inconsistency
Was the recognition that Mary just received a fluke? This kind of question arises when there isn't a genuine sense of appreciation and a culture where everyone values each other on a frequent basis. Regular recognition comes about through caring, and the little acts, all of which add up to show that everyone is acknowledged for their contributions.

6. Murky Opacity
This is the opposite of transparency. When people have trouble seeing clearly what your intentions and motives are for giving recognition, that’s opacity. Individuals receiving recognition should see, hear, and feel the authenticity behind your actions and words. Start any act of recognition giving by answering the unasked "why?" question first.

7. Unfortunate Mistrust
Without sincere trust and respect there can be no "real recognition." Trust must be a core focus behind how people are treated. Prove you are trustworthy by being honest with all you say and do. Only then people can believe your praise and expressed appreciation.

8. Dumb Myths
These truly drain the recognition right out of organizations. Thoughts like, "there's not enough time" or "if I recognize this person, what will others think?" are not worth your time. Never let individual, organizational, or mythological reasons hold you back from doing what is right. In the words of Rosabeth Moss Kanter, "There are no excuses--rewards are a right and recognition is a gift."

9. Unskilled Abilities
It’s true: not knowing how to do something well can inhibit us. But we should never let that fact be an excuse. When you don’t know how to do something, you should be smart enough to know you need to ask someone for help. Ask a leader who acknowledges you well for advice. Read a book on how to do it right.

10. Undisciplined Actions 
Yes, recognition giving takes time -- both personal time and commitment. Become more disciplined and cue yourself to get going. Allocate time at the end of a day to call, write or get up and thank someone. Acknowledge people at the start of meetings and not at the end. Begin each day by sending an email of gratitude to someone. 

Incentive columnist Roy Saunderson is author of Giving the Recognition Way and president of the Recognition Management Institute (, which consults companies on improving employee motivation that leads to increased productivity and profit. He can be reached at [email protected]. Also, tune in every Tuesday to his radio show, Real Recognition Radio.