Recognition – the simple act of acknowledging a contribution. Leaders, the word recognition, the act of recognition is not time intensive; it should not feel daunting. Yet, Gallup found that 40% of employees say that they receive recognition only a few times or less per year. This is insanity because on the flip side, those employees who receive recognition that hits the mark for them, they’re five times more likely to be engaged in the culture, they’re four times more likely to be productive, and they are three times more likely to stay loyal to your organization.

Recognition is very simple; it does not have to be some major program, though recognition programs are great. What I’m offering for you as a leader, a people manager, is that you are engaging in frequent, consistent, simple recognition for your employees. You don’t need to come up with an entire motivational system, or some huge incentive plan. If you yourself offer recognition frequently and consistently to your employees throughout the year, you’re going to achieve these results.

But the recognition has to hit the mark.

We talk a lot at The Corporate Refinery about the personalization need – because look, the people you lead are people; they’re human beings. They have their own thoughts, feelings, experiences, and emotions. So if you want to have them generate more and you want to be able to recognize their contribution, you’ve got to personalize it. Personalization is going to be key. The magic question that you should be asking your employees when they come onto your team, when you first hire them (and if you haven’t done it already, go do it now!) is simply asking them how do they like to be recognized?

I had some employees on my sales team who really wanted recognition purely with cash. They wanted that commission, that showed the recognition. Others wanted to earn that big incentive trip. Others preferred flexibility, time off. Others didn’t just want recognition from me, they wanted recognition from two layers above me, from our Senior VP. So I figured out how to make that happen.

Ask your employees how do they like to be recognized, and find ways to do that consistently. One of the big mistakes that we see is that leaders assume everybody likes public recognition. So you build it into your team meetings, hey, I’m going to have a place where I recognize and acknowledge everybody, or certain individuals. Some people do not like that, so they don’t even acknowledge that as a form of recognition.

So find out how to personalize the recognition as best as possible, and then do it frequently and consistently, and you’re going to yield that loyalty, that productivity, that engagement from your employees for the future. Do not overcomplicate it, do not feel like this is a daunting word. It really is that simple to do, yet will give you the best results!