Sunday, April 15, 2007

Curious about Recognition: Do You Use It, Enjoy It and/or Want It? How Much Does It Mean to Us and Others?

There are two things people want more than sex and money... recognition and praise.” - Mary Kay Ash, American businesswoman

There are two kinds of taste, the taste for emotions of surprise and the taste for emotions of recognition.” - Henry James, American writer

I am presently reading The Carrot Principle: How the Best Managers Use Recognition to Engage Their Employees, Retain Talent, and Drive Performance by Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton. Gostick and Elton refer to tests that prove that if a leader adds recognition to the management mix, employees, followers and volunteers will respond positively.

In 1959, Frederick Herzberg developed a list of factors which are closely based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, except it more closely related to work. Under “Motivators or Satisfiers” he listed recognition right at the top.

Oftentimes, we are not recognized for doing a good job, but are for making a mistake – and that is not very rewarding. I am sure that you feel as I do – I love having someone compliment me on an accomplishment. I am also delighted when out of the blue, someone from the past recognizes me and, even better, remembers my name.

Now, let’s talk about giving recognition. Notice how others’ faces light up when you compliment them on a well done project. Or, remember their name. In my fitness classes, students share their victories – weight loss, lower blood pressure, being the star hiker on an outing. Besides congratulating them, I always ask if I can share what they’ve told me with the rest of the class. The recognition brings applause from everyone, and talk about a motivator!

We must not only give sincere recognition to others, but also recognize our own victories and accomplishments. Give yourself a pat on the back for all of your good work and deeds.

What do we find in the way of quotations from the often quoted:
  • I will tell you King's First Law of Recognition: You never get it when you want it, and then when it comes, you get too much.” - Billie Jean King, American athlete
  • They didn't know who I really was. They didn't know how much the smallest amount of recognition would have meant to me and how the smallest amount of criticism could undo me.” - Amy Tan, American writer
  • If my work was about anything, it was about the search for identity, for personal recognition, for acceptance, for communion, and for a big country. I've always felt that's why people come to my shows, because they feel that big country in their hearts.” - Bruce Springsteen, American musician
  • Happy indeed is the scientist who not only has the pleasures which I have enumerated, but who also wins the recognition of fellow scientists and of the mankind which ultimately benefits from his endeavors.” - Irving Langmuir, American scientist
  • Admiration, n. Our polite recognition of another's resemblance to ourselves.” - Ambrose Bierce, American journalist

How do you feel about recognition? And, how do you handle it? There are those - and I feel the majority - who enjoy and rise to the occasion of recognition. I do a great deal of “heavy” volunteer work. If, after the many hours dedicated, no one even recognizes with a “thank you” (which, for me, is enough) I find that I don’t rush to take on more jobs.

This is also when I work at following Abraham Lincoln’s suggestion, “Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.”

I do want to recognize and thank all of you who read my blogs, my newsletters, and send me great feedback! You are wonderful! Have a great week.