by Roy Saunderson | July 09, 2012
We’ve all heard it — or said it — before: “I don’t have time to give recognition.” Around the world, a lack of time is the No. 1 reason given for not appreciating our peers and employees. However, demonstrating that you value people and what they do requires very little time. In fact, you can incorporate the following recognition ideas into what you are already doing every day. By doing so, you will make a profound difference and impact the lives and work of those with whom you associate. Here are 10 simple steps for doing just that:
1. Say thanks for considering us. Turn the tables on potential job candidates and demonstrate a culture of recognition giving by sending them a thank you letter or note, thanking them for aspiring to join your team.

2. Establish a culture of recognition right from the very beginning. Inadvertently, we instill an entitlement mentality when we bring on new employees by spelling out what they will receive in terms of recognition and rewards with our programs. So, give your new hires a set of their own thank you cards and tell them that you expect them to give recognition to people who help them, in return.

3. Start off your day by recognizing good work. Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, recommends that, before you go through your daily influx of emails, you should pen a positive email or two to send out to people. By complimenting them, it sets the tone for the rest of your day and brightens the lives of those around you.

4. Make recognition a priority in meetings. Put recognition and acknowledgements at the beginning of your meetings. All too often, our good intentions to express appreciation for contributions made too get placed at the bottom of the agenda and are cut off whenever time runs out.

5. Share real-life examples. MGM Grand starts each day off with a pre-shift meeting for positive sharing. From the executive team suite to the environmental services department, leaders and employees share a values-based example of great service they’ve observed recently. By doing that, you now know that to recognize going forward.

6. Ask yourself where recognition ranks on your Intranet. If you have to ask yourself this, you’re not making recognition a top priority. Does it take too many links and scroll downs, or longer than 10 seconds to find recognitions on your Intranet? If it does, you need to fix that by putting recognition stories on the front page, and placing the portal link front and center so people can see it, use it, and appreciate people.

7. Lead by example from the top. It’s true that senior leader involvement is the No.1 driving factor behind recognition program success according to CEOs and vice presidents of human resources. Demonstrate the available incentive programs that are offered to your employees and encourage them to get on board and lead the way for others.

8. Tap all of your communication channels. Leave no stone unturned when it comes to educating and celebrating employees. Whether you use a welcome sign or billboard, tent cards in the cafeteria, newsletters, and informative how-to emails, or even LCD-TV display screens throughout the office, you should create a strategy that sticks to a calendared plan.

9. Utilize every recognition moment. Don’t throw away recognition opportunities. Pass along second-hand compliments to recipients; send validating letters when sending someone on training programs; acknowledge the little things that make life easier; celebrate the big things that make us stand out.

10. Ask yourself whom you thanked today. Plan time in to your day to write or verbalize some needed praise or recognition. Doug Conant, former CEO of The Campbell Soup Company, scheduled time to write 10 notes each day in order to connect with people and tell them they were important to him. That simple gesture showed that he cared enough to say “thank you” and set the tone for his entire workforce.

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.