Culture of recognition_Thank you_

Insights | 22.03.2022

Actions don’t always speak louder than words

‘Thank you’. ‘Brilliant work’. ‘You absolutely nailed that’. Sounds simple enough, right? A happy, motivated team whose work is recognised, is undoubtedly good for business.

Nothing hugely revolutionary there, but too many businesses aren’t evolving with the times. And if the challenging twists and turns of the last couple of years have taught us anything about work, it’s that positive culture is fundamental, if not absolutely essential. Culture plays a pivotal part in attracting good people and more importantly, keeping them. (Great resignation, here’s looking at you.)

Sure, money talks, but it’s a monosyllabic chat. A recent study found that being recognised for your work plays a huge part in motivating people. So when it comes to rewards, it’s recognition that really speaks volumes.

Culture of recognition - what motivates great work?

The power of thanks

A simple ‘thank you’ can go a long way, so here are six ways to harness the power of praise and build a culture of recognition in your organisation.  

1. Make it easy

Create an informal, accessible way to recognise individuals and teams. At TCC, we use a #Kudos channel in Slack that’s bursting with pats on the back and shout-outs for when people are brilliant at work (no matter how big or small). Not only does it help to encourage that warm, fuzzy feeling in real time, it’s also a great reminder of all the awesome stuff we’ve done as a team.

2. Start at the top

Here’s what Kim Scott, author of Radical Candor, says:  “The importance of the simplest things, like thank-yous, are most often forgotten by bosses – even good bosses. A thank-you goes beyond praise. Praise expresses admiration for great work. A thank-you expresses personal gratitude. In the case of a thank-you, you are explaining not just why the work matters, but why it matters to you.” Encourage senior leaders to show their appreciation for their people. It breaks down barriers, fast. No-one’s too busy to say ‘thank-you’ and you’ll likely find that the effect will trickle down.

3. Spread the love 

We all know a simple ‘Thank you’ is incredibly powerful. Better still, it can become contagious. This study in Germany found that 2/3 of people agree that “If I get recognition, I would also like to give others recognition.” Encouraging the simple act of peer-to-peer gratitude can have a lasting effect. And hopefully it goes viral.    

4. Use meetings wisely

Weekly team meetings and 121s can often feel a bit too BAU. Switch it up by giving shout-outs and take a moment or two for that all-powerful ‘Thank you’. Put a couple of minutes aside in each meeting to recognise a job well done. Add some OMG to that BAU – and start that meeting on a high. 

5. Be spontaneous

Designated recognition time provides structure, but it risks being formulaic and praise for great work has a shelf life. General consensus is that leaving it longer than a week is too long. So remember to thank people in the moment with a healthy dollop of good, honest praise. There’s no time like the present.

6. Get to know your team

Find out how your team likes to be recognised using the five love languages quiz. We spend a huge amount of our time with our workmates, so applying the philosophy to our work relationships is a handy (and fun) way to understand what makes people tick. Do they love a lunch out, a simple ‘thank you’ email, a personalised notebook, time back? Find out their love language and tailor rewards and recognition to each of them.

It might be a team meeting, a 121, an email, a voice note, or even a quick corridor chat. No matter: the act of recognition is simple, powerful and incredibly rewarding, for everyone. However (and wherever) you choose to deliver it, it’s easy to make your actions speak even louder with words.