5 Myths About Rewards and Recognition in the Workplace

November 13th, 2020

Implementing rewards and recognition is something that is important all the time, and especially during the performance management process. And all too often, it’s not something we do consistently, or do enough of. I’d like to dispel some myths that I see getting in the way of rewards and recognition:

Myth #1 Rewards are more important than recognition

NOT TRUE!!! In fact, I would argue it’s the other way around. Statistics show that rewards (monetary, etc.) tend to be short-lived. When you look at studies that show what motivates people, money does not come out on top. In fact, many people lose sight of the reward, or what they did with it. Recognition, however, tends to last. I see thank-you notes pinned up on the wall all the time when I visit offices. People remember the phone call from their boss, or their boss’ boss, or the thank you that was received from a customer. These are the things that cost nothing, but create a memorable and genuinely felt appreciation for a job well done. Now, that’s not an excuse to not pay fairly or offer financial incentives. On the contrary those things do matter, but what has a bigger impact is genuine recognition – it will never be asked for and never forgotten.

Myth #2 Employees don’t want to be recognized

I’ve heard this often from employees, managers and leaders. My take: of course no one will ask for it, but no one is upset that they get it. It is nice to be recognized. Although many people may shy away from public recognition (those that shy away from attention) there are many ways to recognize and thank someone. A phone call, a simple statement, note or thank you gesture goes a long way.

Myth #3 I don’t have anything to recognize right now

If that’s the case, then you’re not looking hard enough. Putting performance issues aside (you need to deal with those), if you’re looking around, you are bound to see you have many employees doing something right. If you can’t see it yourself, your employees, managers and customers see it – start asking.

Myth #4 I missed the opportunity and now its too late

It’s never too late. Yes, feedback is best when its timely and even in the moment. And, that’s not always possible. But don’t push the opportunity aside because some time has gone by. If it’s not timely, acknowledge that but still share the praise and recognition. And then make sure the next time you get to it sooner.

Myth #5 I’m too busy

Too busy for recognition? What does that say to your employees? The truth is your people are your largest and best asset – it is your job as a manager and leader to make time for recognition. Plan for it weekly, just like you plan for the other things you have to do. You can invest as little as 10 minutes a day looking around, talking to others and finding something good to celebrate. We don’t have trouble finding the bad – it will find us, however, the good is like a gem – you have to look for it. Our brains are focused on finding negative information more often than finding positive information – it’s part of our survival instinct. However, you can retrain yourself to look for the good by planning for it and committing to it. A little time invested now can prevent a lot of time later having to hire, find and train a replacement for a great employee lost.

The bottom line is if you want a smooth, easy performance management process, make performance management part of your everyday life. It’s not an annual or quarterly exercise. Look for the good, and deal with the issues quickly.

We’re always here to help at BankTalentHQ – don’t forget to reach out to our coaches for help!