The power of recognition and appreciation in business

Abraham Maslow, the father of modern management psychology and creator of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, explored at length what motivates people. At the top of his pyramid of needs is self-actualization, or contributing to something worthwhile. Over the years, others who have explored this theory, including Stuart Levine, former CEO of the Dale Carnegie Institute, have found that “people work for money, but go the extra mile for recognition, praise, and rewards.”

In their book The Carrot Principle, Adrian Gostick and Chester Elton write, “Perhaps the most difficult portion of the recognition process is choosing a form of recognition that taps into an employee’s motivation triggers.” Later on, they tell us, “Among the leaders we have observed who take the time and interest to personalize recognition, it has made all the difference in employee performance.”

If one of your business resolutions is to make sure team members are more motivated and productive in 2013, you may be interested in survey findings that say recognition and appreciation are the key to motivation and retention for workers. It has been found that individuals who have the opportunity to work toward company honors and recognition increase their productivity, get along better with fellow team members, are very likely to stay longer with the organization, get high marks for customer satisfaction, and have an excellent work ethic.

Richard Carlson, author of Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff, says, “The power of appreciation is among the most underutilized forces in the universe. It can transform your life.”

Since recognition and appreciation are highly energizing, they continually show up at the top of most lists of motivational factors. While money is great, giving tangible recognition counts for more because the recipient gets “bragging rights.” Mark Twain once said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.”


The important parts of an effective recognition program are:

  • Everyone has to be eligible to receive the awards.
  • The program has to supply both employer and employee with specific information about what is being recognized and rewarded.
  • Whoever performs at the standard stated in the criteria will get recognized.
  • Recognition programs should be scheduled as close to the time period being judged as possible so the awards program itself reinforces the program’s criteria.

It has been proven over and over again that people who feel recognized and appreciated produce more and better work. That’s something to remember as you re-evaluate your business goals for 2013.

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