Simple messages for employee recognition

Over the past few weeks I’ve received a number of messages of thanks. Simple messages, but ones which help me know I’m doing a good job, making a difference for someone, and make me feel proud.

When somebody else tells you you’ve done a good job, guess what? It makes you feel good that somebody’s noticed and you’re far more likely to put in that extra discretionary effort.

And that’s one of the topics I covered on last week’s workshop; i.e. the importance of giving recognition, or showing appreciation. It’s not just your star performers either who you need to do this for. In fact it may be the very lack of recognition that leads to people not being star performers!

So here are two of the principles we covered last week.

Tap into people’s strengths

We often underestimate people’s capabilities. When we don’t see individual skills or strengths it leads to a tendency to demand all-round competence in a job.  As a result, development focuses on areas where a person is least capable, with time and energy spent on working towards average performance, making everyone a “Jack of all trades and master of none”.

Whilst it’s good to cross train your team so you make cover easy, you don’t want to end up everyone mediocre in everything, but expert in nothing.

When you allocate responsibility in areas in which people excel, it makes it easier for you to delegate control and ownership, giving them the flexibility to adapt and adopt their own style. When people have one or two areas of specific focus it encourages them to go deeper and develop their expertise, and gives them a sense of pride.

Often these are skills they don’t necessarily recognise themselves, as they take these things for granted.  When you recognise these strengths it can be a real confidence boost for them.

This is not only good for people’s development; it also helps the team respect other’s roles and share the burden.

Of course, in reality we can’t always let people just do what they’re best at, but we can at least make sure that they’re not always under pressure to improve what they’re worst at!

But by focusing on individuals’ strengths, you can balance your team, so they complement potential shortcomings in others.



Even when people know they’ve done a good job, it’s always rewarding when this gets recognised by others. Let everyone know when you’ve had a successful event, project or week’s trading, and acknowledge contributions.

Recognise those who go beyond the call of duty e.g. changed domestic arrangements to help out, dropped their own work to support a colleague or gone out of their way to help a customer. Acknowledge those who have put effort into a project even if it has just fallen short of the mark. It’s the effort you’re applauding not the result.

Saying thank you and well done in front of the whole team may make some people feel uncomfortable, so be selective, and sensitive to this. But when done for the whole team it can give a real boost.

Put some thought into how you say thank you, make it relate to the individual and something that resonates with them.

Being recognised at work so you can be proud of your contribution can have a massive impact on employee engagement, and all the knock-on benefits of staff retention and productivity. And of course, your customers’ experience.

This stems from the top, so if you are recognising your managers and supervisors so they feel pride in what they do, they are far more likely to do the same with their team members.


If you only do one thing:

Pick one thing each of your team members does well and make a point this week of telling them how much you appreciate this.

Recognising strengths article

Employee Recognition Ideas video