An environment of appreciation is a critical element of positive company culture in 2021, particularly in companies that have adopted a work-from-home model. In this article, I discuss six ways for the intelligent leader to foster a culture of recognition and appreciation.

The Importance of an Employee Recognition Program 

Employee recognition is an integral part of positive company culture. That recognition is even more critical in the context of remote teams and remote work.

Creating or maintaining a positive culture is more challenging with remote workers. Recognition hands leaders a great tool to boost the culture of their organization across geographical distance and the limitations technology imposes on communication. Read on to learn six ways to ensure that your employees feel appreciated.

Employee recognition should be a part of your organization’s culture. 

1. Use all types of employee recognition.

As part of a great organizational culture, your employee recognition efforts should cover the complete range of recognition types.

  • Micro recognition is an ongoing, day-to-day process, and as such, it is an excellent channel through which the intelligent leader can consistently reinforce company values. Sending notes, dropping a card, and expressing gratitude through a bulletin post are all forms of micro recognition.
  • Informal recognition is perhaps the most effective and valuable form of appreciation an employee can experience. By its nature, such recognition comes from the heart, is always sincere, and has the greatest positive impact.
  • Formal recognition may consist of an award and a ceremony, and it features a more structured format.

2. Institute a culture of honor.

Respect and esteem are the building blocks of a culture of honor. When employees and leaders respect and hold each other in high esteem, the resulting environment does not favor negativity, gossip, and the appearance of factions. It unites the workforce and lends recognition an aura of legitimacy.
Where respect rules supreme, recognition is always genuine, bearing an affirmation that can act as a powerful motivator. Under such circumstances, recognition will empower employees, encouraging them to develop a sense of psychological ownership toward their work. Thus, they achieve optimal alignment with the values of the organization by their free will.

3. Be deliberate in showing gratitude. 

In my book, “Intelligent Leadership,” I have stated that the ability to provide sincere, heartfelt praise and recognition stems from an element of character called gratitude.
Grateful leaders can create meaningful connections more easily and can elevate their peers and reports by showing selflessness. Deliberate gratitude also results in more optimism and better psychological health in practitioners.
Despite its blessings, gratitude does not come naturally for humans, hence the need to be deliberate about it. Setting time aside for expressing gratitude is an excellent way to generate informal and micro recognition regularly.

4.Celebrate employee strengths.

Everyone possesses natural strengths. By aligning an employee’s responsibilities and tasks with his/her strengths, companies can boost morale and productivity.
Since it is such a powerful lever of motivation, it makes sense to integrate the celebration of strengths into a reward/recognition system. Let your teams come together and discover the strengths of their members. Allowing employees to discuss these strengths opens the path to alignment, happiness, and better morale.

5. Show vulnerability. 

In the context of intelligent leadership, vulnerability no longer has the negative connotations it may have carried in the past. Within this modern leadership paradigm, it has become a powerful tool to build trust.
By showing vulnerability, leaders do not just show that they are as human as their reports, they become capable of connecting with others on the most basic and intimate levels. Trust based on mutual vulnerability goes beyond office politics, effectively defeating the hurdles that remote work poses to communication and relationship-building.

6. Let employees know that their work matters. 

Knowing that your work is valued and has a positive impact on the lives and work of others can be empowering. Nothing is quite as rewarding as being able to take pride in what you do. Letting people understand the impact of their work feeds their natural need to contribute and make a difference.

If you want to proactively shape the culture of your organization, check out my leadership coaching services.


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