Recognize the Whole Person

Recognizing the Whole Person

Some people think about recognition as a to-do item on a checklist. “Recognize my people: check!” But another way to think about recognition is to see it as a continuum. If this idea resonates with you, check out this worksheet on recognizing the whole person, not just their results. Otherwise, keep reading to learn more about the continuum of recognition.

The continuum of recognition
At one end of the continuum we recognize a person for who they are, their way of being, their innate strengths, and their character. In the middle, we recognize the attitude and effort a person brings to any task or job; essentially, the process they have for how work gets done. And at the other end of the continuum, we recognize the results and outcomes a person achieves.

If this idea resonates with you, check out the worksheet we’ve put together on ways to recognize people along this continuum. Or, keep reading to see why this might be a valuable activity.

Where do managers in your organization focus their recognition?

Too often when I pose this question to a group of managers and leaders, they point to the far-right end of the continuum. They are mainly recognizing the results and outcomes a person achieves. While that may not surprise you, I wonder how many leaders think about the impact of that recognition. When we only recognize someone’s results, we fail to motivate performance in two important ways:

  1. We fail to encourage people to express their whole, authentic self.
  2. We fail to encourage a growth mindset.

Many organizations are thinking about what it means to encourage people to express their whole, authentic self. At TiER1, we value bringing our whole selves to work. That means sharing our authentic self, quirks and all, and encouraging others to do the same. It makes life (and work) much more interesting.

Recognizing someone’s process and effort outside of results is also critical, particularly when encouraging innovation and the pursuit of stretch goals. More than 30 years ago, we discovered that people with growth mindsets outperform those with fixed mindsets. Since then, the evidence has accumulated that encouraging people for their effort helps them shift from a fixed to a growth mindset. Turns out, recognizing people for their effort can be more motivational than recognizing them for their results.

One last thing to think about: we all respond differently to praise and recognition. Some prefer public recognition while others just want a private pat on the back. Some people value tangible gifts and others prefer you give the gift of quality time. Understanding how each person prefers recognition is important if we want to maximize the impact of our recognition.

We’ve put together an employee recognition worksheet that can help you think through each of these variables to uncover how people respond uniquely to recognition. As a leader, taking a few minutes to figure out the specific recognition needs of your employees can really pay off.

Download the worksheet.

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