Popularity-driven occupations share common ground with their results-driven counterparts in one key respect: acknowledgement is appreciated in both arenas. And here’s where the topic gets tricky, as the visibility inherent in a certain category of work has to be accounted for when you are assessing the role and necessity of acknowledgment. In a rapidly paced, ultra-competitive sales arena, the top-ranked and highly personable sales professional will find themselves receiving acknowledgement from peers and leaders by default. The support personnel who contributed to those sales results in some way will have to hope the acknowledgement reaches them through management consciously taking note of their contributions.
As in every facet of life, attention and praise in the professional sector are matters of circumstance; they are subject to variables which often can’t be effectively controlled. In business, the leader’s job is to level the recognition landscape as much as possible. Yes, you have star performers and employees who court attention for any number of reasons. You also have consistent performers and functionaries whose work and commitment to the organization deserves formal recognition. And as workplace research studies have demonstrated, acknowledgement in some form or another really does carry a lot of weight within the corporate ranks.
What thoughtful recognition creates for a company is essential and healthy morale. It affirms for those being recognized that their contributions (aside from registering with their leaders) are connected to the company’s mission, to its reason for being around at all. It invites each contributor to understand their work with a fuller operational picture and instills a feeling of essential participation within them. It’s good for business by being meaningful for those being acknowledged.
There are also many options on the table with respect to engineering your organization’s recognition system. A sensible place to start would be in putting the question directly to your workforce. Determine what would be well-received by those you’re acknowledging and respond accordingly. Direct incentives work, but the intangible approach might be worth looking at in some cases.
You can overlook the work of far-reaching recognition for a time, but it won’t be lost on your employees. Now as always, find good reasons to let them know you are aware of their work - you won’t have to spend much time on the search.