Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Observation as recognition

A recent study indicated that 39% of employees leave jobs because they don't feel recognized.

Learning how to recognize others is a key leadership skill, but often a misunderstood one.

Many times leaders believe that recognition needs to be BIG, in order to be effective. This is not true. While a promotion and a pay raise is a form of recognizing great work, it is certainly not the only way to recognize employees.

I have learned a great deal about the importance and the simplicity of recognition by being a parent. I do think that many of these lessons transfer into the workplace.

The most critical component to recognition is observation. Leaders need to be present in the moment and observe employees behaviors. This is a far more productive tool that one could ever imagine.

When my daughter starts to get demanding or a bit unruly, it is my wake up call that I haven't been "present" with her enough. What I mean by that, is that work can take over. I get busy juggling things that life brings me and someitmes I get routinized into just getting through the activities and days surrounding my family life. The same happens at work. Leaders, like their employees, often get bogged down with the work and they get routinized into just getting through the work activities and plan.

When I find myself in this mode (and my daughter reminds me through her behavior,) no matter how busy I am I try to just stop and observe her. I ask questions and listen and spend quality, focused time on her. I practice deliberate observation which in turn makes her feel recognized, appreciated and respected. Amazingly, her unruly behaviors stop.

Leaders must learn how to practice this with their employees. Employees' behavior will directly remind you that they feel unrecognized. As a leader, you have the responsibility to stop and practice deliberate observation. In turn, you will see how these acts can go a long way with employees. They will begin to feel recognized, appreciated and respected. If you continue to practice this, over time, their unruly behaviors will stop.

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