You're Doing Great

This week we added a new podcast to our library all about recognition in the workplace.  If you haven’t listened to it, check it out here.
Emmy and I start out the podcast by talking about the time a petting zoo showed up at her office. A very Millennial experience. And yet, it was part of a recognition program at her workplace, where employees used an app with points to recognize each other. By pooling their points together, they voted for the grand prize of a petting zoo at the office for a day.   Not your average recognition item, but a day that Emmy (or I after the numerous cute animal photos texted to me) won’t soon forget.  
People want to feel valued at work. And with Millennials making up closer to 50% of the workforce every day, it’s more important than ever to recognize and reward their contributions. Doing so can help employees improve their performance and ultimately strengthen your company’s culture as well.
Besides a petting zoo, there are many ways to recognize millennials. Here are some tips on how to acknowledge your Millennial employees. (These will work with other generations too, so read on.) 

Recognize specific behaviors or results.
Make sure your recognition is specific and something that you observed.  Something like: "Emmy, you consistently help your team and customers feel valued with your positive, friendly and enthusiastic approach.  I would like to offer you this token of my appreciation (insert whatever it is here) because that type of positivity is what helps us win more business. "

Recognize company values.
When you see an employee practicing a company value IRL, let them know.   It will help them learn the company culture and show others that it’s important to you, too. What gets celebrated defines culture. The more you recognize specific behaviors that reinforce the culture, the better. If one of your core values is teamwork, make sure you notice when an employee is doing a great job working with their team.

Recognize by everyone.
Back to the petting zoo. The most important part of the petting zoo recognition was not the cute fuzzy animals. Well, maybe it was. But a big part of the petting zoo experience came from peers recognizing peers.  Recognition received from peers can be more meaningful for Millennials because it's their peers who have a better understanding of the work that they are doing. 

Recognition from leaders is also crucial for Millennials because it helps them see the big picture and how their work impacts the business.  Just make sure the recognition is timely and specific to what you saw happen.  

Make it personal.  
Recognizing one person one way, won't work for everyone. As along with a lot of other ways to give feedback, recognition deserves a little personal attention.  Make sure you know enough about your Millennials to know if they like to be recognized individually, privately, or on stage in front of a big group.  A personal note or a quick conversation is best for special recognition.  Or you can use the company blog, podcast, or team meetings to recognize those who like public attention. Whatever the case, make sure you’re letting them know they’re doing great things. 

Recognize in real-time.
We raised our Millennials' to expect feedback and recognition early and often. Put in place processes that enable peers and managers to easily recognize teammates in real-time.  While identifying behaviors or results in real-time isn't always possible, strive to recognize as soon as possible.

Here’s the warning: Be careful not to over recognize. Handing out too much recognition can lessen the impact for the high-achievers and confuse the low-achievers that aren’t sure how they earned it.

Recognize, then coach.
Help Millennials understand what it took to get the recognition you offered so that they can continue to make progress. Use the time as an opportunity to coach and mentor a Millennial.  

Millennials value opportunities for growth, so they also expect ongoing learning in the workplace. Show them gratitude and appreciation for a job well done, help them understand what they did to get there and coach them into greatness by offering them professional development. 
Knowing that we did a great job and made a difference at work is what we all need.  

Acknowledge and recognize a job well done today, you're doing great. 

Emmy Hayes