Is Your Recognition as Impactful as it Could Be?

by Jul 1, 2022

Recently, I was reviewing survey data from a client we are working with who specifically asked an open-ended question around recognition. Employee’s responses were eye opening. I found that while some were seeking monetary recognition, like bonuses, raises, etc., many were simply asking for words of encouragement or a simple “thank you” for a job well done.

It got me thinking about the power of compliments at work – something so simple that can make a huge difference in employee engagement, job satisfaction and company culture. As if the stars aligned, I’ve been working on developing my own leadership skills, including a recent training exercise in giving compliments.

I learned there are two types of compliments, a half compliment and a full compliment.

A half compliment sounds something like, “good job,” or “excellent work.” And while it, of course, is positive to tell your employees these things it doesn’t intentionally reinforce the behavior.

A full compliment has two parts. First, it involves naming a specific behavior. It sounds like, “great job using a calm demeanor and tone with that difficult customer today!” The second part is including how it benefited you, the team or the organization as a whole. It would sound something like, “great job using a calm demeanor and tone with that difficult customer yesterday, you were a great example to the rest of the team and how they might navigate a similar situation moving forward.”

See the difference?

Providing a full compliment is also another way to reinforce your company’s core values. One of our core values at Civility Partners is “Learn a Lot”, meaning we are always looking for new ways to expand our knowledge and grow. So, a full compliment with core values attached might look like, “Rebecca, great job sharing what you learned around compliments on our blog. You’re really embracing our core value of Learn a Lot and it makes a huge impact on the organization as you’re able to apply your learning internally.”

By utilizing core values in your recognition, you are actually bringing them to life in your organization. So rather than being words on a website or wall, they are actually being valued and used by employees internally, which is a driving force for building a positive culture.

It’s human nature to seek recognition for a job well done and studies show that recognition is key to job satisfaction and in turn company culture. In fact, a recent study by the Cicero Group found that, “50% of the employees believe being thanked by managers not only improved their relationship, but also built trust with their higher ups.”

So I challenge you to practice giving full compliments to your staff, peers, and even your boss. Then, reflect on how they respond to it and watch the magic grow.

I’m sure you’ll notice a difference in their job satisfaction and overall engagement!


Rebecca Del Secco & The Civility Partners Team

P.S. This post is inspired by Leadership Labs, hosted by Consilio!

About Catherine Mattice

Catherine Mattice, MA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP is President of consulting and training firm, Civility Partners, and has been successfully providing programs in workplace bullying and building positive workplaces since 2007. Her clients include Fortune 500’s, the military, several universities and hospitals, government agencies, small businesses and nonprofits. She has published in a variety of trade magazines and has appeared several times on NPR, FOX, NBC, and ABC as an expert, as well as in USA Today, Inc Magazine, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur Magazine, and more. Catherine is Past-President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), San Diego Chapter and teaches at National University. In his book foreword, Ken Blanchard called her book, BACK OFF! Your Kick-Ass Guide to Ending Bullying at Work, “the most comprehensive and valuable handbook on the topic.” She recently released a second book entitled, SEEKING CIVILITY: How Leaders, Managers and HR Can Create a Workplace Free of Bullying.

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