by James Dudek //
As we approach Spring Staff Appreciation week, I am frequently asked by managers and supervisors for ideas of how they can recognize and show appreciation toward their staff. While I am happy to brainstorm any of the myriad meaningful ways this can be done, I first like to start the conversation by discussing how different, though related, recognition is to appreciation.
Recognition is performance based – it deals with metrics and accomplishments. For example, you might ask a staff member to stand up in a team meeting and publicly recognize her for finishing the big project she took on in January. Recognition is an outcome of completing a goal and about getting results on a work product. Another important aspect of recognition is that it is primarily a top-down occurence in an organization. My boss gives me an award. The Chancellor acknowledges me at a public event (Hi Carol!).
In contrast to this, appreciation is people based. Where recognition values the work produced, appreciation values the person. Appreciation is non-judgemental, which is entirely the point. You are acknowledging someone’s efforts….their willingness to help, not whether or not they met a deadline. You are validating them as a colleague and letting them know they are valued. They feel welcomed to be on the team. All staff should be recognized for being part of our community regardless of their accomplishments. Lastly, unlike the vertical nature of recognition, appreciation is much easier to be horizontal and matrixed: I can appreciate any colleague at any level, whether it is someone I work with directly or someone above me in the organization (I am so glad you’re the Chancellor, Carol!).
An easy way to remember all this is: Recognition is about results and the work people do. Appreciation is about the people and who they are.
So as you plan to appreciate and/or recognize staff keep in mind the distinction and do both where you can!