The Power of Recognition: Build Commitment and Improve Motivation

I’m making a difference,…aren’t I? I’m doing a good job,…right? Everybody strives for recognition. We want to feel that what we’re doing matters, and is more than just an idle task. This appreciation shown to others, and shown by others, becomes a major motivator for people in a wide range of roles. Recognition is an important part of teamwork and a feeling of achievement, and it can be important for anything from raising a child, to improving relationships, to career or professional advancement. The vast potential from showing recognition is nearly palpable. The questions to be considered then are, do we give enough recognition to others, and are we seeking recognition for the right reason?

There are two perspectives to take when examining this challenge. One side of the coin revolves around our own personal need and craving for recognition. We want to be validated and ensured we are doing a good job, and excelling at our task or position. The other side of recognition is the powerful production that can come when we give recognition to others. When people strive to show genuine appreciation to others for their hard work, it provides a valuable motivator and behavioral reinforcement. Watch these two areas carefully to examine the role they play if your life. Do you tend to seek or give recognition more often? Nurture Yourself through Self-Recognition We all need to nurture our self-esteem, and a major part of this validation comes from personal recognition or self-assurance. It’s important that we recognize our personal achievements, regardless of outside praise and compliments. We need to give ourselves the respect we deserve and reward ourselves for a job well done. It can be easy to neglect our accomplishments and focus on the things we haven’t completed or done perfectly. Most of us are our own worst critics, and we need to be very careful of this, particularly if we don’t have someone encouraging in our life. If nothing else, we can always provide self-recognition and begin to fill our emotional bank account. Focusing on past successes provides confidence and positive self-esteem. This self-belief provides motivation to manage challenges and attain goals. We develop self-worth and self-trust and start to feel capable and valuable. There is one catch to personal recognition though. We must watch the boundary between healthy self-confidence and excessive pride. This can be done by seeking humility through remembering all the people involved in our accomplishments. Though we must continue to pat ourselves on the back as well, we don’t want to seek recognition for it’s own sake. Keep humble but do great things. Help others to help themselves, and be an example for others to emulate. Through sincere motives and desires, genuine appreciation will come. Recognizing all the People in your Life “No man is an Island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main…” – John Donne We couldn’t accomplish much without the support and advice of the numerous other people in our lives. It is so important to show others that we remember what they have done for us no matter how small the contribution. Just making a gesture as simple as keeping people up to date about our progress, and saying thank you, lets them know they influenced us and we are thinking of them. In a more formal sense we must always give credit where credit is due. I really believe in sending a thank you message to almost anyone I consult with. I feel it shows that I really appreciate their time and recognize how valuable their insight is for my development. If there are specific people in your life who have opened life-changing doors and offered profound wisdom, give them credit whenever possible. This is similar to showing a sincere interest in others. In any reciprocal relationship, by giving respect and value to the other person, it provides value and respect in return.  This helps to build enduring and lasting relationships. Many leaders can contribute much of their success to showing a sincere interest in others, and building rapport through the process. Recognize that we can learn at least one thing from anybody we encounter. Everyone has something to offer, and we should appreciate this contribution. Recognize what others have to offer and show them genuine appreciation. Positive Reinforcement: the Key to Changing Behavior It is easy to point out what people do wrong. Give praise instead. Or even more specifically, instead of criticizing what someone does, only focus on what they do well, and what you want them to continue doing. Ignore the insignificant negative behavior and pick your battles.When truly noxious behavior persists, it must be dealt with, but never forget the positive behavior in the process. Focus on peoples’ strengths and what they do well. Give others praise and recognition for the behavior you want to strengthen,  and see what behavior continues to persist over time.  You may be pleasantly surprised, and even feel better for the interaction. All in all… When seeking recognition we must always be careful of the motive behind it. When recognition becomes the sole purpose of our calling or life’s work, we are neglecting a valuable part of our true potential. When recognition becomes an all consuming focus for engaging in a task, we lose personal control and freedom, as our satisfaction now lies with the approval of someone else. Recognition should come as a byproduct of fulfilling our role and duties to the best of our ability, because we believe in what we are doing. We should strive for recognition in those areas of life we are passionate about. Lastly, never forget to show recognition to others. The core of being a leader is a willingness to give recognition to others in order inspire and support them. Accepting a leadership role can mean taking a heartfelt interest in others and receiving less external recognition through the process. In order to really motivate others and establish commitment, show others a genuine appreciation, and how vitally important they really are.