A 1000:1 Ratio is a Problem

I bet you have a process at your company to reprimand employees. You probably cover everything from verbal and written reprimands all the way to suspensions. I\’m quite certain that every organization has a way to notify employees when they are performing poorly.

With that said, does your organization have a way to commend employees for a job well done? Aside from a short and sweet “attaboy” or “attagirl,” do you have a way to show your appreciation in a written format?

I\’ve seen hundreds (thousands?) of reprimands. I\’ve seen a single commendation. That leads me to two possibilities. One, there really aren\’t any other staff members who deserve being commended for performing well (not likely). Or two, there aren\’t any supervisors willing to commend someone for doing well (quite likely).

Or maybe it\’s more benign, and the supervisors really don\’t know the power of a short note letting someone know that he/she knocked it out of the park.

Whatever the cause, it\’s a problem that needs to be addressed. I\’m willing to bet that many of you work in companies that are similar. Check out your ratio. I don\’t think you should be praising your employees daily for every little action, but when someone really takes up the slack and goes above and beyond, then it really wouldn\’t hurt to show some appreciation.

Photo by Sidelong

12 thoughts on “A 1000:1 Ratio is a Problem

  1. Paul Hebert

    Everyone knows about the power of recognition. My God, we’ve only been harping on it for over 50 years. It’s a lack of management training, a lack of support from the top – and pure, unadulterated laziness.

    Do a quick google of “does recognition drive performance” and you get over 1.6 million hits – it’ s not that the information is in the Ark of the Covenant – it’s available on any street corner.

    I think as folks advance up the ladder of the corporation they begin to believe they are better than the rest and stop caring about recognition – and also, ‘cuz they didn’t get it they are sure to continue the practice.

    The bottom line – you do what you’re taught to do – not in training class – but by the culture of the company. Want to know why people don’t recognize other – check out the C-Suite – my guess is they only focus on the negative!

  2. novice-hr

    Ahh, great point Ben! I remember when I used to work at a call center, they did use that approach and recognized employees for their good performance. Supervisors would give out thank-you cards and sometimes even gift cards to good performers during their weekly meeting. It was a small gesture but it sure made employees feel very special and appreciated.

  3. Victorio

    I agree with Paul’s assessment on recognition. Part of the problem also has to do with the fast pace of business these days. If progressive discipline could be managed automatically (maybe a robot could write the corrective actions for you) I bet there would be a huge sigh of relief coming from line managers across the country. They have to do it, otherwise the problem lingers and the organization faces potential liability.

    We’re so focused on getting the job done (sales generated, products produced, costs contained) that anything that distracts from that takes a back seat. We know in our hearts that recognition works but it’s a distraction.

    Maybe this generation, raised on the mantra of work/life balance, will figure it out.

  4. Paul Hebert

    “We all know that recognition works but it’s a distraction”

    Wow – I think that sums up the problem better. The other stuff you mentioned IS the distraction.

    If we spent our time on recognizing, rewarding and validating the efforts of good performance – the “distractions” would happen by “magic”.

    We manage what is easiest to prove we managed – and that would be the stuff we’re measuring easiest. (say that 3 times fast)

    Measuring “calls per hour” is easy. Measuring how well a manager assessed performance, developed a plan to connect performance to behaviors that impact results and provided positive and negative feedback on that performance (including recognition) is MUCH harder – therefore, – well you know what comes next – it doesn’t get done.

  5. Victorio

    I agree Paul, which is why talent management tends to fall under HR’s umbrella. It’s a hard job that doesn’t get its fair share of respect and resources. The business leaders focus on the numbers and don’t have to worry about the human processes needed to impact those numbers. We then become easy scapegoats when things (meaning people) don’t work well. Which is why HR really needs to step up-we’re sitting on a goldmine, if only we would wake up to that realization.

  6. Ben Post author

    @Paul Thanks for the comments and the followup. I have a tough time keeping up with your pace, but it always gets me thinking. :-)
    @Victorio You really need to tie your comments together into a post of your own. :-) Good stuff!

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