I define recognition as making sure individuals know that you appreciate them and their efforts.

It doesn’t matter if you are an employee, manager, or leader, you may tell yourself, “they know I appreciate them” or “I just thanked them for the other day.” Or perhaps you manage from the school of thought, “no news is good news.” But I’ll tell you for the majority, William James said it best, “The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.”

Wouldn’t you agree?

Doesn’t it feel great when someone has stopped and thanked you? If not, then you might be an anomaly. If you read the latest workplace trends or employee engagement polls, studies have shown that most people are craving to be appreciated and recognized. Your team company culture could be suffering as a result.

What’s the magic formula?

Remember to appreciate and be grateful. When you say thank you, be authentic with a concrete example. Show appreciation when someone has done something for you. Thank the person when they have acted in a way you would like repeated. Positive reinforcements beget repeat behavior. Make a note of accomplishments and milestones – small and big, then appreciate, acknowledge, and recognize.

There are so many easy and inexpensive ways to recognize others. It all starts with appreciating and valuing the gifts others bring to your projects, programs, or activities. Before setting out on your recognition mission, make sure to understand how others prefer to be recognized. Some prefer a more private over public approach.

Here are five simple ways to recognize others:

  1. Walk over to them, call them, and tell them “thank you” for a specific contribution.
  2. Leave a thank you note or post-it of appreciation on their desk.
  3. Buy them lunch or a cup of coffee. Spending extra time goes a long way – listen and be present.
  4. Invite them to a meeting that provides that added exposure aligned with their development.
  5. If you are not their manager, send an appreciation email, and copy their manager.

For the more public recognition, you can ask them to share their success at an upcoming staff meeting or in a company newsletter or blog, checking if they are comfortable with this first. You can also set up a more structured program, where individuals can learn from the behaviors and best practices of others. An official recognition program can easily be set up, by understanding your objectives and what you like to promote as a success.