Do You Recognize Them?

The people you work with like different things. How do you learn what those things are?


Survey and then talk to your direct reports about what they would like as recognition for their good work. By doing so, you not only create a more effective recognition plan, you build buy-in.

Developing a recognition plan is not about checking off a box and spending allocated dollars. It is a tangible expression of thanks that you give to colleagues who have helped you.

It sounds simple, but busy professionals screw it up all the time because they do not listen. People are different; you know that. While one person might beam over receiving a plaque to hang on their wall, another might prefer a celebratory lunch with the team. Some people want cash, regardless of the amount, and others would move heaven and earth for the chance to leave early or take an extra day off. What motivates each of them is personal, and you need to know what it is so that your recognition will be meaningful and positive.

If you pull a stereotypical introvert to the front of the room to sing their praises and then ask them to give a little speech, you are going to embarrass them. Worse, going forward, they will probably avoid doing whatever it is that got them there. You consider yourself an adaptive leader, so when it comes time to recognize someone who happens to be much more extroverted, you decide to quietly slip a thank you note and gift card into their mailbox. Dumb move. They are going to be hurt and probably pissed off. They wanted a parade. You throw up your hands and give up. “There’s no pleasing these people.”

Did you ask? Did you listen?

Make the time to ask people what they would like for recognition before they have earned it. List all the things you could theoretically and practically provide. These can be standards like gift cards and favored parking spaces on the low-end to televisions and vacation trips on the high-end. Try to be more creative and be open to other ideas. Have each member of your team independently rate their level of desirability for each item, and then discuss it with them during your one-on-one meetings. Let them know you cannot always provide everything listed, and there are no guarantees. However, it gives you a better sense of how they would like their achievements supported. When was the last time you were asked, “How would you like your achievements acknowledged?” If you do not have an answer, they probably won’t be.

Some busy professionals are cash strapped, which is an irrelevant excuse for not recognizing someone. Rewards tend to have a dollar value; recognition does not have to; its value comes from you saying, “I noticed and appreciated what you did there. It helped a lot. Thank you.”

If you surveyed your team and put the results together into a matrix, you’d see the current culture emerge. Are most people looking for more time off? Do people want to be exposed to mentorships and included in different projects? Do they want tangible things they can bring home and share? What are they rejecting? Is there apathy or engagement?

The answers are there. Ask, listen, and follow-through.

Simple Rule

Ask yourself, “What would a lousy leader do?” Then, make damn sure you don’t do that.

Success leaves clues, so does failure. Pay attention to the lessons that surround you. Very few wake up in the morning determined to be a lousy leader, but through arrogance, dogma, lack of curiosity, or a moral compass that spins like a propeller, that’s where they end up.

Defend yourself against this with a dose of lousy leader prevention. When faced with a dilemma, imagine what a lousy leader would do. Do the opposite!

It may not always be the exact opposite, but by examining your potential actions through the lens of a lousy leader before committing to them, you will more likely choose the better path.

And remember to lighten up. Don’t take everything so seriously. Things are neither bad nor good; it’s your attitude that makes them so. Be professional, sincere, and tone down the theatrics. Good leaders project calmness and confidence, even if they temporarily lack both. And they laugh a lot because they know lessons with laughter last longer.


Accountability Partnering

Don’t burden your spouse or friends with the role of an accountability partner. If they have unconditional love for you the rose-colored glasses are going to prevent honest feedback. And if they have a personal grudge or latent jealousy, you’ll be hounded by what-abouts, you already tried that, and other doubts that will stifle your goals. Karl Bimshas Consulting offers a new program you might like. Stay focused, stop procrastinating, reduce time sucks, cheer progress, and reach your weekly goals. Learn more at

Leadership Workbooks

You could become a better leader without being a jerk. Start with Leadership Workbooks a series of short yet profound workbooks created by Karl Bimshas Consulting.


Quick Question

Imagine a place where you could access a regularly growing supply of self-assessments, worksheets, thought-starters, on-demand webinars, and other tools from Karl Bimshas Consulting for leaders who want to manage better and lead well.

What do you think? Would you be interested in becoming a member of such a leadership library? Click this link => and share your thoughts on our survey.

Become a confident, competent leader in your field without becoming a jerk. Boston-bred and California-chilled Karl Bimshas is the leadership consultant, author, and podcast host who collaborates with busy professionals — most often those who are underestimated and underrepresented in leadership roles. Learn More



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Karl Bimshas

Karl Bimshas

Boston-bred and California-chilled Leadership Adviser | Writer | Podcast Host who helps busy professionals who want to manage better and lead well.