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But it's on the job description! Why should we recognize it?

A number of years back, a few colleagues and I got into a bit of a debate.

We saw that there were several on staff who constantly looked for “gold stars”. This stirred up some intense emotion in a few of my colleagues: Why should we give gold stars for work that was just part of the expectation agreed upon at the time of hiring?

The most recent episode of the Radical Candor podcast, titled “It’s About Humans, Not Resources”, hit on the critical point that investing time in the people within organizations is not time wasted. Their guest, Al Guido, is president of the San Francisco 49ers, and he shared some incredible stories. For me one quote stuck out:

“Leadership is not about being in charge, it’s about taking care of the people who are in your charge.”

And there, I believe, is the explanation of why time spent recognizing staff is so critical. Yes, there are certain expectations of one’s role. One need only take a look at a job description to figure these out. But, in the absence of positive feedback, it’s tough to know if efforts are in line with the culture and goals of the organization. For example, if an expectation is to plan and prepare lessons ahead of time, a teacher needs to know that his/her efforts are in line with the focus of the school. It is a form of taking care of those who dedicate their time and energy to the organization.

What might recognition look like?

Recognition doesn’t have to be an elaborate show of appreciation, but a simple explanation of where the employee is meeting the mark can help establish a level of confidence that propels future growth. Think of it as a vote of confidence.

Below are some ideas:

  • Send a quick email to acknowledge the individual. Or, if you have a few moments, write a quick note (then take a photo of it so you can keep record of the acknowledgements!). As a staff developer with a caseload of teachers, I kept blank notecards at the ready, and feedback was always that these meant a great deal.
  • Take the time to share it with him/her face-to-face! Maybe pop into their classroom or office, or call them into your office when you see them nearby. It need not take long - just a quick conversation will suffice.
  • Depending on your organization culture and what you know about the employee, you may want to acknowledge more publicly. Perhaps in a weekly memo, you have a section about the great, mission-focused work that is occurring on a daily basis. Brief bullet points can help convey to the entire staff that you acknowledge the hard work and dedication happening all over.
  • Whatever you choose, be intentional! Just as we don’t want to provide empty praise to our kids, it’s not helpful to provide empty praise to adults. The barometer you might work with is whether the recognition can help the employee build his or her confidence that their work is moving the organization toward the mission.

How do you recognize with intention? Share with us on our Facebook Page: LSA NY (Lutheran Schools Association) or Tweet us (@LSANewYork).

Last month brought us teacher appreciation week. We’ll post next week about how to optimize this week in schools!

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