Employee Recognition and Winning Leadership

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It is safe to say that today’s leaders are expected to do more than ever before. Aside from being emotionally intelligent, self-aware, charismatic, inspirational, worldly and capable of interacting with and leading a diverse workforce, they also need to be specialists in a variety of different fields in order to make informed decisions. Primarily, they need to keep their workforce wilfully aligned with organization goals, in order for their teams to continually deliver customer delight. This is why, today, the emphasis has shifted towards the soft skills of leadership. Once an individual attains C-suite status, their soft skills begin to matter exponentially. The conceptions of traditional leadership hierarchies are being challenged by instead empowering specifically those leaders who can thrive in any situation.

A Dale Carnegie Global Leadership Study found that:  

  • 76% said a leader who gives praise and honest appreciation would be more likely to inspire them than someone more focused on getting the job done.
  • 74% of employees are more motivated by a leader who “encourages them and makes them believe in their ability to improve”
  • 57% said that leaders who praised them for improvements in performance are more likely to inspire them, compared to a leader who recognized employees with only tangible rewards.

Employees want to be treated with respect and appreciation for their daily efforts towards building the organization. Everyone wants to make a contribution, and effective leaders enable this. It’s crucial that managers and high level executives inspire trust and cooperation within their teams. We already know that great leadership results in employee job satisfaction and a keenness to remain with the employer. Employees who are satisfied with their job are more engaged overall, as well as more committed professionally and emotionally to their employer. They are willing to go the extra mile, exercise discretionary effort, and take the company forward

 A high level of engagement renders employees unwavering in the face of shifting environments, despite all odds. Naturally, since customer happiness and employee engagement are tightly linked, companies that master engagement see that reflected in their bottom line.

So what is it that exceptional leaders do differently from the rest? Well, they encourage employees to move forward without trepidation, cultivating goodwill by acknowledging participation at every step. When an employee contributes even the smallest input, it should be met with sincere appreciation for the contribution it makes to the organization, even if that means failures. No one wants to be a faceless bot in an endless stream of workers. High-performing individuals should be able to stand out and be recognized – especially individuals who are tired of putting in loads of time and effort and it going unappreciated in larger companies. On the other hand, those who display potential should be assured that they will eventually be considered for a leadership succession pipeline. If employee potential goes unrecognized, don’t expect them to wait around – they will leave for more attractive opportunities.

But the good news is that positive reinforcement is by far one of the most – if not the most – effective and easy way to up employee satisfaction, enthusiasm and engagement. Praising an employee’s fortes is much more effective than critiquing weaknesses. Gratitude for doing the job right substantially improves the likelihood that they will continue to strive towards doing so. There should never be a limit on applause or commendation. If, as a manager, you make your team feel comfortable and considered, you will see a marked difference in their discretionary productivity, their alignment to the company culture and finally, their business innovation. And who wouldn’t want a workforce that goes out of their way to innovate?

Managing millennials has become an increasingly crucial factor to bear in mind when it comes to talent management, largely because they have different aspirations, worldview and comfort with technology, which has led to the emergence of new working styles and expectations. Millennials are increasingly defined by their love of self-governance, emphasis on merit over tenure and deep desire for social impact.

According to Dale Carnegie’s ‘Igniting Millennial Engagement’ study, this key demographic is significantly likelier to be engaged than their older counterparts, with one of their requirements being ‘a desire for continuous feedback’. It’s imperative that they know where they stand in order to see the entire picture and make educated career and life choices.

A rewards and recognition plan that wholly recognises employee achievements draws a parallel with the millennial want for feedback, and is one of the many arguments for incorporating such a strategy into an organization’s HR activities. At Dale Carnegie India, we have implemented a brand new recognition plan, titled the Champion’s Passport. Every employee is issued a blank passport which enables them to achieve recognition under dedicated criteria: individual achievements, performance, value endorsements, CSR initiatives and L&D achievements. Individuals with the maximum stamps will be awarded periodically, ensuring that no milestone goes unnoticed, however big or small.

Suffice it to say that a new leadership model now exists, so it’s a good time for leaders to reassess their leadership styles. To be amongst the ranks of today’s greats, remember the Dale Carnegie quote ‘Give honest, sincere appreciation’.


Author- Pallavi Jha is the Chairperson and Managing Director of Dale Carnegie Training India which has international partnerships with some of the world’s leading firms and brands such as Dale Carnegie, USA (training), and PerformanSe, France (Assessments). Pallavi has diversified exposure to various management practices in areas such as training and development, HR, consulting and business restructuring, covering a wide range of industries from media, entertainment, technology to the financial services sector and the engineering industry.

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