How do I boost recognition? 

Recognising performance and contribution contributes significantly to employee wellbeing, achievement and retention.

As an HR leader, how can you make sure that managers build this recognition into their daily management of team and talent?

It might require a rethink and change of culture. At the core of this will be a tool to easily offer a ‘thumbs up’, a ‘pat on the back’ or a ‘thanks for a great job’. What are you doing?

Shift in Recognition

We know change is underway as to how people are recognised for what they ‘bring to the table’, for what they do or for how they are. 

Rewards, awards, spotlights and highlights all have a role to play. 

However, in a world where the giving of ‘kudos’ has become the norm through apps and social media, why not apply this same approach when recognising achievement – in whatever form – in the workplace?

The recognition from peers and colleagues can be as equally valuable as the boost from fellow athletes when training to run a marathon, cycling from London to Brighton or going from 'Couch to 5k'.

Why Recognise and Acknowledge Success

Celebrating successes, be they individually or collectively won, helps to build and reinforce positive feelings. It helps to enhance the subjective feelings of wellbeing and accomplishment.  

And wellbeing is important. 

We know from psychology models (such as David Rock’s SCARF, Gallup’s Q12, Seligman’s Virtues and Strengths and Dan Pink’s AMP [Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose]) that acknowledgement of the things we do well, for what we excel at and what people value in us has a critical part to play in how motivated and engaged we feel. 

It can help us to do more of what’s working for us, spur us on to do even better, give ourselves some credit for what we have done and generally feel better about our experience of work. 

And it’s not just about receiving recognition that provides the boost; it works the other way too. 

Giving people ‘kudos’ can help us to feel more connected to our colleagues or, more importantly, it can help us to recognise our own progress. Neuroscience tells us that the very act of offering praise or expressing gratitude activates the prefrontal cortex. This is responsible for decision-making, motivation and regulating your emotions.

It means that the very practice of giving recognition at work can produce a virtuous cycle which leads to improved wellbeing, satisfaction and positive psychological functioning.

Where Does the Term 'Kudos' Come From?

While kudos has its roots in the Greek word for ‘glory’ or ‘fame’, the contemporary use of the word comes from a slang term which was popular at British universities in the 18th and 19th Centuries. 

Here it referred to the renown or prestige that someone would get from doing something of note. The word found its way into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1831 as a word to mark exceptional achievement. It wasn’t until the 1920s, however, that we saw ‘kudos’ enter into wider usage in American and English vocabularies, as meaning “praise given following an achievement”.

Embedding Kudos and the Practice of Positive Gratitude into Talent Management 

As an HR leader, your managers and employees need you to take the lead, to rethink your talent practices and build in recognition. 

Re-imagining 360-degree feedback   

360-degree feedback gives you the opportunity to gather comprehensive and holistic feedback – both the reinforcing and positive, as well as the developmental, constructive kind.  

However, most 360 systems don’t always give the feedback provider the option to highlight what they really value about the recipient – what really warrants praise and recognition.

With Talent 360, this has changed. 

We have designed the platform so that each reviewer is granted a maximum number (determined by you and your organisation) of ‘kudos thumbs ups’ that they can give the person being reviewed, across all the rated questions in the 360. 

The platform then adds them up when the report is built and includes a summary page in the report. This shows the individual what they were given kudos for – and which of their response groups gave most.  

It can also generate a ‘kudos word cloud’. This adds yet another dimension to the coaching conversation and helps the feedback to go beyond the typical ‘ratings from people hiding behind anonymity’ – and can, in some respects, be a little more human.  

It is down to organisations, their culture and their desired cultural trajectory to determine what kudos means in their world. However, this provides one way in which it can be easily woven into a common talent management practice.

What are you going to do in your organisation?

If you'd like to explore how kudos can feed into your 360 process, let's book a call and talk it through.  

Building the Giving of Kudos into Performance Management 

Some people seem to be naturally good at showing their appreciation of others for a job well done – and bring these into the regular performance check-ins or review meetings. They might do this in the form of direct feedback, 'thank you' emails or a quick WhatsApp.

Others though may feel a little awkward or uncomfortable offering such praise, yet might be more likely to offer it anonymously. 

Likewise, some managers are adept at spotting those opportunities for celebrating success and others tend to overlook them. 
In both cases, what can technology do? 

Can it help by providing a bit of a prod, some inspiration and an easy mechanism for getting the message to someone?

Our ‘kudos cards’ are built into our Talent Performance platform. 

These cards are similar to virtual high-fives that sit within our performance management software. They can be used to give someone instant recognition for something they have done well, for something you really appreciate or for a talent and strength that they have used to make a difference.

So, what could kudos cards be given for?

While someone might just have achieved a personal best in their local ParkRun, that probably doesn’t have much bearing on their work. 

Instead, there are strengths, human virtues and praiseworthy attributes that most people could meaningfully be given kudos for in the workplace. 

We created a list of these based on the work of three key thinkers. A list of attributes which could positively impact motivation, engagement levels and positive emotions at work. It’s by no means an exhaustive list, but we think it’s a good place to start:

  • Ambassador
  • Authenticity
  • Bringing the fun
  • Courage
  • Fairness
  • Friendliness
  • Generating ideas
  • Integrity
  • Kindness
  • Learning
  • Listening
  • Networker
  • Passion
  • Positivity
  • Problem solving
  • Right first time
  • Resilience
  • Straight-talking
  • Supportive
  • Team spirit
  • Technical wizardry
  • Values-driven

These kudos cards sit within the feedback centre of our performance review platform. Our clients take them and use them as we’ve created them or customise them or develop their own. 

Your Turn

In a world of escalating costs and tighter budgets, it’s worth looking at the smaller things. Things that cost little but make a big difference to the way someone feels and how motivated they are to contribute more to the team or organisation. 

A verbal ‘thank you’ is free, but doesn’t leave a digital footprint. 

Putting in place a fast-to-access digital platform for your employees to request, receive and share feedback is an easy way of collecting, storing and accessing the things that others value them for. These can really help to boost recognition. 

Get in touch to talk about it.