4 December 2023

4 min.

3 ways to offer recognition that really feels good

In the workplace, recognition plays a central role in strengthening commitment, motivation and, ultimately, collective performance. However, offering meaningful recognition requires much more than superficial gestures. Just because we say thank you to someone on our team doesn’t mean that their need for recognition has been satisfied.

For this recognition to be genuine and impactful, it must meet three essential criteria: personalization, fairness and consistency.

Customize recognition

When you’re looking to offer recognition, do it not only according to your personal style, but also take into account the other person’s preferences. Try to capture what’s important to the person and adjust your message accordingly. Share your observations in a way that’s true to the facts, and highlight the impact of their gesture on you, the team or those around you. To make it even more heartfelt, don’t hesitate to share key anecdotes or a message you know is of value to the other person.

Take the example of Patricia, who has been there when you’ve had issues at work and who, as you know, appreciates humor. To recognize the impact her presence and attentiveness have had on you, you could say to her:

You're like the unrecognized superhero in my life! The one who's a great active listener and knows how to be there when I need her most. If I had an award to give out, you'd win the one for best moral support, with a special mention for surviving my questionable puns.

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Be fair

Fair doesn’t mean equal. Perhaps you’re tempted to offer the same recognition to everyone, out of a desire to please everyone? The effect would be diminished, even possibly misperceived. Of course, everyone should receive recognition, but not necessarily in the same form, with the same words or at the same time.

When it comes to fairness, it’s important to emphasize what’s significant for each person in a comparable way. For one person, it might be the opportunity to take part in a special project, for another to take part in a training course. Of course, a message of recognition will probably be greatly appreciated by the person receiving it. But if you want to go a step further and surprise the people who inspire you with some outrageous gesture, be my guest!


Bring recognition to life in your organization!


A few ideas to explore:

  • Create a small treasure hunt with offbeat clues that lead to a thank-you note.
  • Write a haiku poem that expresses gratitude in an artistic and concise way.
  • Offer a small “use when needed” coupon book with original favors, such as “a free ninja hug” or “an on-demand pep talk”.
  • Prepare an original dish or cookies and attach a thank-you note.
  • Make a goofy little reward “statuette” from salvaged materials and organize a comical “prize-giving” to highlight the special qualities of the person you’re thanking.

Treat yourself!

Think authenticity and coherence

To multiply the impact of your recognition, be honest, sincere and above all… authentic! If your recognition doesn’t come from the heart, it’s likely to be overheard and not achieve the desired result. Be spontaneous: if an action makes an impression on you, don’t hesitate to acknowledge it as soon as the opportunity arises.
Finally, recognition gestures should be consistent with your culture, values and work context, as well as with your own actions and style.

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What is your communication style?

What is your communication style?

We’ve known for some time now that gestures as simple as taking the time to say thank you or acknowledge a job well done can have impacts as significant as improving psychological health, increasing commitment and even boosting team performance. So do it a lot (and do it wisely)!