Recognition Dos and Don’ts

If you implement your recognition program correctly, you will help create a high-performance workplace and a strong corporate culture. Just remember that effective recognition requires careful planning.

Here are some dos and don’ts for your recognition program.


  •      • Recognize or show appreciation as quickly as possible.
  •      • Be specific.
  •      • Mention how the action or behavior was personally helpful or fits the larger vision.
  •      • Keep it brief.
  •      • Ask how you can provide further support.
  •      • Replace annual reviews with frequent performance discussions and coaching.
  •      • Develop a habit of pointing out the positives at home, with friends, and at social activities so you can incorporate those habits at work.
  •      • Show appreciation for good effort that advances the organization’s efforts.
  •      • Always deal with performance problems in private.
  •      • Always say thank you.
  •      • Recognize people publicly.
  •      • Use as many recognition channels as you can to reinforce behaviors.
  •      • Be clear about who and what should be rewarded and by whom.
  •      • Separate performance and compensation discussions since they serve two different purposes.
  •      • Keep measurements, improvement progress, and recognition highly visible.
  •      • Reward both individuals and teams.


  •      • Don’t just recognize top performers and superhuman efforts.
  •      • Don’t compare or contrast teams or individuals.
  •      • Don’t use money to shape behavior or boost performance. It rarely works.
  •      • Don’t set up competitions unless teamwork isn’t important to you.
  •      • Avoid suggestion systems.
  •      • Don’t use promotions as a reward. People should only be put in larger leadership roles because they have demonstrated the ability for higher levels of leadership.

The bottom line is simple: when established correctly, recognition programs can help managers and employees become more productive. Follow these guidelines to help you design a highly meaningful and fully integrated recognition program.