The language of recognition – how to communicate appreciation

Communication is vital. Not just for recognition, but for your business overall. Transparent, open-handed, and inclusive cultures start with great communication.

Recognition isn’t an exception. Getting the most out of employee recognition means putting some thought into how you voice your messages of achievement.

Watch your tone

When you recognise success, you have an opportunity to frame an accomplishment. You can frame an accomplishment through your valuesand you can also frame an achievement to maximise its benefit to the employee.

For example, someone may notice a problem with a contract that would have left your company vulnerable to a supplier down the line. Great work, obviously, and something not to be missed. It’s important to frame employees’ behaviour in a way that shows their actions are positive, even if their achievement was only preventative.

So, your employee didn’t avoid a problem. They showed valuable diligence and proactivity that strengthened your company’s position with a supplier.

We’re trying to make the positive aspect the focus, rather than letting the potential negative become the headline. There are two positive effects here:

  • The impact of your recognition will be greater, having shifted focus back to your employee’s behaviour instead of your company.
  • You’re holding proactivity and diligence up as valuable behaviours you’d like other staff to repeat.

Have clear goals in mind

When you know what your recognition is trying to achieve, you can tailor your communication to reflect that.

If you want to motivate staff to be more productive, emphasise the quality of their work and the value it brings to the business.

If you want staff to be more collaborative, you should focus recognition on how they delivered a team objective, and how important they are to their team.

If you want staff to keep values in mind during their workday, be sure to mention how they exemplified those values in their accomplishments.

What you recognise is, ultimately, what you’re endorsing. Have clear goals in mind about what you want to achieve, and ask yourself before you write up a recognition letter or similar, “Will this message deliver on my goals for my business?”

Give your values a chance to shine

If you don’t talk about your values, if you don’t make them a public part of what your company does, how can anyone see them? If no one sees them, they can’t be real in their heads, and they can’t be lived out.

Tie your messages of recognition in with your values. This has a few effects:

  • Your staff see that you’re putting emphasis on your values
  • Employees see how their actions tie into your values
  • Your staff see how they can contribute and uphold your values and culture

Put time aside to listen, too

Two-way streets validate and empower your workers. One-way streets frustrate and alienate.

Make it clear that you’re open to hearing what your employees have to say, and that you take their thoughts seriously. Consider, respond, and, most importantly, act.

This diminishes the sensation of hierarchy in recognition and communication, and means recognition has more impact than a one-sided conversation.

It’s not just what you say

It’s how you say it. How you communicate appreciation can significantly change the kind of impacts you can expect to see from embracing recognition.

Not sure if you’re getting your recognition right? Get in touch, we’re always happy to talk you through it.