Recognition – are we all just too needy?

According to the Forbes 2015 Recognition Survey  there is a $46 billion market for employee recognition – that’s a lot of gold watches and thank you awards!  

When we ask our clients what gives them confidence, feedback and recognition is the number one response.  Knowing that 98% of the people that we support doubt themselves, this dependence on recognition creates an external confidence strategy resulting in a sticking plaster approach to engagement that doesn’t last and creates a cycle of neediness in the workplace.

Examples of this neediness abound.  The 2014 Gallup Business Journal reported that 65% of employees wanted more feedback and 98% of employees will fail to be engaged when managers give little or no feedback.  So managers try to remember to give feedback,  and if they don’t,  their teams are more likely to be disengaged.  Global businesses launch recognition programmes spending an average of 1-2% of payroll on it.  In the US and Canada there is an official day dedicated to it –  the first Friday every March is ‘Employee Appreciation Day.’   Its not working…Dale Carnige research in the US shockingly points out that 71% of employees are not actively engaged.

So what’s the answer?

As individuals we need to develop internal confidence strategies, those things that we can control which help us feel good about ourselves.  Positive self-belief is a key internal confidence strategy which is consistent and reliable.  Most external confidence strategies are based on ‘I’ll be confident when……’.  We rely on things like; when my boss gives me good feedback, when I know all the answers, when I am with people I know and trust, to give us confidence.  These are not within our control and thus our confidence wobbles.

As businesses we should replace recognition programmes with positive belief programmes!

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An anonymous review of iAM question responses illustrates our point.  In a random selection of 50 iAM questionnaires 70% of people use words like doubting, worrier, overthinking, lacking confidence, being over sensitive and insecure when describing themselves.  No wonder we look to others to tell us that we are good enough. 

Do you have an external confidence strategy?

  • Do you get frustrated and doubtful when you don’t receive feedback?
  • Do you depend on things going well to have a good day?
  • Do you need to have all of the answers?
  • Does your day start to go downhill when other people don’t respond to you the way you think they should?
  • Do you need to be liked? 

How to build strength from within and ditch the need for recognition:

  • Don’t rely on knowledge and data totally to do your job – trust yourself too.
  • Write down what makes you good at your job and keep it front of mind, using the positive energy to fuel your confidence.
  • At the end of each day list three things that went really well because of you.
  • See the best in others – and yourself.
  • Manage your emotional response if you are triggered so that your energy stays positive and you don’t slump and need others to lift you.

To be the best and most confident you, you have to understand who you are.


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