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Four Behaviors that Should Never Be Recognized

Recognition is more than just a nice thing to do—it is a great way to advertise and reinforce your company’s core values and culture. What gets recognized gets repeated, so you want to make sure you’re sending the right message. Although recognition is almost always a positive thing, below are four behaviors that should not be recognized:

Behavior that goes against core values (even if it brought success): One of your salespeople just reeled in a huge deal- time to celebrate! Oh but wait…after the contract was signed you found out that he did it by lying to the client about your company’s ability to deliver by a certain date. Unless you want to encourage this type of behavior in the future, this employee’s “success” should not be celebrated. Many companies count integrity or accountability among their core values, and if you’re one of them, you need to stand by it. It may cost you a prospect now, but it’ll end up earning you more business in the future as satisfied clients refer you to others as a company who stands by its claims.

Recognition that hurts someone else’s feelings: This is a tough one—sometimes you really want to thank someone for fixing a mistake made by someone else, or picking up another’s slack. It’s not that you shouldn’t recognize the behavior privately, but you should ensure that it is not a public or social event. If your online recognition program has a social feature, be sure to block this particular post from appearing on the social feed or intranet so that you don’t embarrass another employee with a message like, “Thanks for cleaning up Jen’s reporting mess—you’re a lifesaver!”

Success comparative to another team or employee: You should never pit employees against each other in order to get better results: for example, giving out an incentive for the team member who closes the most job tickets in a month. It’s not that you shouldn’t incorporate incentives as a motivational technique, but employees should be given a number to reach and beat, and anyone who reaches that number should be rewarded. Otherwise you will squash teamwork, encourage infighting, and kill the motivation of those who don’t “win.” Employees can have their own friendly competitions about who reaches the number first, but it won’t encourage the “every man/woman for themselves” mentality.

Mediocre effort: If you know an employee could have done better on a particular project, but you’d like to encourage him, then have a quick feedback conversation that thanks him for his effort but lets him know that you expect more next time. Simply recognizing the fact that he got the work done will send the message that his lackluster effort is laudable and may cause him to repeat his performance next time. Recognition should be saved for truly special efforts or it becomes meaningless.

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