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Motivate Your Staff Through the Right Kind of Performance Acknowledgement

The workplace is all about teamwork. When employees recognize that they are contributing to the success of their company together, they become more individually creative, cooperative, and effective in their jobs. But, they need more than self-recognition and self-motivation to feel that they are valued. Study after study has shown that workers perform better with performance feedback and recognition from their managers that highlights their strengths and contributions.

Business leaders should keep in mind three prime ingredients to effective employee engagement: value, appreciation, and recognition.

Employers should recognize that the first area of concern for employees is that their skills are seen as valuable from the first day of work. Paying fair compensation sends a signal that you the employer understands the value of the job and its context in the job market.

If an employee accepts a position that only pays them a fair rate through subjective raises or bonuses, they do not feel valued. Often a sense of frustration and stress builds until that has a negative impact on performance, which can lead to staff turnover.

Some fields naturally lend themselves to equating compensation to performance. When businesses depend on hard numbers for success, employees recognize that they need to meet those quantitative objectives. Support staff and knowledge workers, however, do not necessarily perform successful work that is demonstrable through hard data.

Bonuses still have relevance to these workers, but they should be seen as additional compensation for exceeding expectations – not meeting them. Often, the unexpected bonus has more meaning than the announced one. It sends the message to the employee that their work was noticed and recognized even when they were successful without being pressured to achieve.

Appreciation is a powerful motivating force. Despite the implicit understanding that the workplace is about getting the job done, not showing appreciation sends a signal that an employee’s personal contribution doesn’t matter to the business any more than the next person who has the job.

Employees that do not receive feedback worry that they may not be doing enough, doing anything worthy of notice, or doing well at all. Some leaders actually use this lack of discussion as a motivating factor to pressure workers to work harder to attract notice.

The downside to this approach is negative reward. When an employee is finally recognized, they do not feel pride in their contribution, but instead relief in the lack of failure. When employees are stressed, they become distracted from their work, and their morale goes down. Employers achieve much more productivity simply by verbalizing a job well done.

People benchmark their own lives. They set goals, work to achieve them, and move on to the next goal. These actions are bound up in an individual’s sense of self. Feeling that what someone is doing has meaning. Whether that’s earning a degree or completing a major project at work, measurable accomplishments change how people think about themselves.

When an employer recognizes that identity by making a positive comment or suggesting new endeavors on the path, the notice generates enormous impact on an individual’s morale and performance. The employee feels that they are being recognized as a person instead of someone who just shows up to work.

Ultimately, the strongest motivators for employees are those that are exhibited through subtle signals. When employees are compensated and treated fairly and recognized for their work, they have a greater sense of well-being. Additionally, they feel secure that the company needs and supports them. The results are higher morale, more positive attitudes, and greater cooperation among staff.