On Being a Good Leader (Recogize Performance) Part 2 of 2


(Continued from “Recognize Performance, Part 1 of 2“.)

It is a real challenge to be a good boss.

There are a number of actions you can take that can make you the “best boss” someone ever had.

One of the most important, and perhaps one of the simplest, means of connecting with subordinates is the simple process of performance recognition.  In a previous post, I outlined reasons why a recognition program is important.

So the question now is: how do you set up recognition program and what are the mechanisms?

The possibilities run pretty much along the classical areas of interpersonal relationships: individual, small group, and on to large group.  (There may be limitations on resources, so the list is in order of least to most resources.)

Individual recognition.

Probably the most powerful tool is a direct personal interaction… the simple “pat on the back”.  There are fewer things more rewarding than having someone you respect look you in the eye and say simply “Well done”.  This is especially true with an action that is complicated, requires a measure of skill, or that requires an element of persistence or diligence.

In the book, “The One Minute Manager”, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson, they suggest that you seek the opportunity to catch someone in the act; not in the act of doing something bad, but doing something good and praising them for it.  Just the fact that you are aware of their activities is a motivation to perform.

Informal recognition to peers.

Make the opportunity to recognize performance within peer groups.  It is among peers that recognition has the most social and emotional impact.  It is the recognition of, perhaps, hidden effort, persistence, achievement, skill, or simple hard work that highlights the value of the person to the group.

Formal recognition to a group.

One of the interesting differences I found in Europe was that few companies had a formalized means to recognize the positive efforts of employees.  There was always a process for disciplining, but not recognition.  The procedure was designed to capture instances of poor behavior or performance, but ignored good behavior or achievement.

I always felt this was a missed opportunity.  Formal group recognition in a public forum that allows an individual the opportunity to receive an accolade beyond the peer group.  The accolade could be in the form of monetary award or a physical award (plaque or trophy) and presented as appropriate: at a formal meeting, newsletter announcement, or personal presentation by a senior executive.

The social emotional impact is perhaps not as great, but it will stimulate a feeling of satisfaction.  There is a more nuanced benefit for the employee: the chance to build or expand their own personal brand within the company.  Secondarily, you, as a leader, will benefit as your personal brand also grows when your people are recognized and as others are drawn, if practical, to work for you.

Industry awards.

Industry awards usually involve a formalized process that typically require the support of company.  More specifically, there will be an effort on your part to review, complete, and submit a package for evaluation.

There is an obvious advantage for the employee.  In the long‑term, you are helping their career and building their personal brand.  Will they use the branding to probably seek promotion or better opportunities elsewhere?

Yes.  Count on it. Accept it.

Don’t make it a reason not to do it.  It will only make you seem petty.  You will erode the trust and confidence you’ve worked to build.  Your pettiness will be communicated and your action (or inaction) will be commented on by the group.

An industry award reflects indirectly upon you and your company.  The company benefits as they will always be publically associated with the name of the winner.  In both cases, the effect is positive and may reveal new opportunities.

Permission to travel and present to customers and industry.

Industry conferences are an opportunity to allow your employees to brag about the company and its products and services.

The correct perception is that your employees are assisting in brand building.

It also helps them in their personal branding, also a positive end result.  Used in a fair manner, industry travel can be viewed as a reward for an employee.  A reward that can break up a daily routine and give them a chance to network internally and externally.

Another benefit is the psychological effect on the employee.  Studies show that people who verbally commit to a position begin to develop an emotional commitment to the position as a way to reconcile an action to a thought.  In other words, if they comment positively on the company they become more attached (or loyal).


There are no downsides to recognizing and rewarding good behavior.  It builds trust and gives long-term benefits for everyone.

Build that trust.  Take a step… recognize!


Kenneth Wrede












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Kenneth Wrede

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