Recognition for Managers Benefits All Employees

Recognition for Managers Benefits All Employees

November 11, 2013

Some years ago, I attended a meeting where a senior leader of an organization asserted that managers – and executives, for that matter – don’t need recognition. His position was that employees at that level are motivated by the work itself.  He suggested that a need for recognition by this group indicated some misalignment or a lack of commitment.  To say the least, I disagree and it has nagged at me ever since.

I turned to industry research to see what I could learn and was surprised to find: not much. There are myriad articles on how managers can recognize employees, but you have to dig pretty deep to find tips on recognizing managers specifically.

The reason it is important, though, is very straightforward: to build a culture of recognition, everyone has to be on board. That means it’s critical to acknowledge every layer of the hierarchy. A manager who has been working nights and weekends without being noticed is less likely to make a point of making note of the extra efforts of those reporting to him or her.  To create a virtuous circle of behaviors and reinforcement, company  leadership must be participants in every respect. Isolating them from the experience will not allow this appreciative culture to develop.

The important role managers play is the subject of Incentive Magazine’s article, Employee-Manager Relationship is Crucial to Recognition Programs.  They quote Gallup consultants Megha Oberoi and Paresh Rajgarhia, saying, “A company might have a world class performance management system in place, but the system is only as effective as the managers who implement it.”

Some ideas to include managers in your program include:

  • Too often, supervisors are rewarded through compensation, but not through public acknowledgement of a job well done. Let managers experience the impact of recognition by making them eligible for formal recognition awards corresponding to their goals. If they experience it, they will understand it.
  • Encourage and provide opportunities for peer-to-peer recognition between managers.  While they should not be given credit for the work of individual teammates reporting to them, they should certainly share in the successes.
  • Include use of recognition and rewards as part of managers’ annual performance reviews to drive home the value the organization puts on the program.

The goal is to create momentum for your program by involving both supervisors and employees as active participants and recipients. The organizational reward is a culture that engages employees at all levels. This is only possible if managers see themselves as part of the team and understand the reciprocal nature of effort and recognition.