Most of us have witnessed moments when credit was given unfairly. It might have been your boss who unashamedly claimed credit for your work, or a quiet colleague who performed brilliantly but was inadequately recognised for her contribution. Ultimately this damages organisational culture and deflates employee motivation. After all, why expend the effort to go ‘above and beyond’ if no one will recognise it?
At the end of the day people want to be treated fairly, and so if you regularly give praise to deserving individuals, people will see that the system is fair, and this will drive performance and motivation not undermine it. To be seen to be fair use the following tips:
- Be specific with praise. Be as specific as you can about what an individual did well. Explaining what it was about a report, presentation or project that made it excellent will have far greater impact than simply telling someone ‘that was a good job’.
- Remember there’s plenty of credit to go around. There are no limits to how many individuals can be recognised for contributing to an outcome, but recognition loses meaning when everyone, including those that didn’t contribute a great deal, receive it. As above, be specific about the people too. Specific attributions of credit always trump blanket statements of praise.
- Recognise those who recognise others. Thanking team members who highlight others’ efforts shows that you value generous and honest attribution of credit as well.
- Don’t forget the quiet heroes. Quiet contributors are seldom concerned with taking credit, and they won’t necessarily tell you about it either. So as a manager it is important to seek out what they have done well and recognise it appropriately.
Fairness is an important element of the human psyche. People want to, and expect to be treated fairly, and so if you regularly give praise to deserving individuals, people will see that the system is fair, which will drive their motivation and performance.