The need for recognition is a basic human need. It is related to our need for belonging— that is, to exist with others. This is why we naturally seek to be recognized or considered by the members of the various social groups to which we belong: in our family, in our social circles, and—of course—at work.
Indeed, the simple “feeling” of being seen and heard for a good achievement, a comment in a meeting, or who we are (our humour, strategic mind, listening ability, know-how, or uniqueness) can make us very happy. It also contributes to our feeling of esteem, reassures us, and gives meaning to our affiliation. Above all, it makes us want to continue being ourselves and making a difference!
In this rather individualistic era, we might be tempted to believe that we are above the need for recognition and capable of being enough for ourselves and recognizing ourselves. And yet, humans will forever and always be social beings.
Feeling recognized and recognizing the people around us in return means thinking: “We’re interconnected, we support each other, and we have a beneficial effect on each other.” The feeling of psychological security allows you to rest and think a little less about yourself and a little more about others. And that is what has allowed the human race to build the world as we know it today.
MORE THAN SAYING THANK YOU!
While the need for recognition is very often expressed, it’s not always easy to know how to meet it, especially at work. It’s as if it didn’t always come naturally to us. And, like anything, when it becomes an obligation and we don’t really understand what the point of it is, it’s less motivating to do it.
This issue of existential recognition is also at the heart of the discourse surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within organizations: an article published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in June 2022 found that “diversity for business reasons (better productivity, creativity, customer service) repels candidates and employees instead of attracting them.”
RECOGNIZING OTHERS IN THE RIGHT WAY MEANS HELPING THEM THRIVE
In certain forms—but not just any— recognition can really help us increase our healthy motivation at work, which Jacques Forest, a professor at the Department of Organization and Human Resources at the Université du Québec à Montréal, describes as “the energy needed to get us moving.”
What if we thought a little less about our own need for recognition and instead started offering recognition to our peers? A ripple effect could be created that way!
Now, let’s explore the types of recognition:
EXISTENTIAL RECOGNITION: FROM TRANSACTION TO RELATIONSHIP
The first step toward sincere and meaningful recognition is to bring the phenomenon of work back to the human level: people joining forces to achieve things. It’s not about individuals moving around in a place or sitting in front of a computer performing tasks.
In this spirit, recognizing the other as a fully fledged person, taking an interest in them, and appreciating them in their imperfections becomes much more important to increasing the quality of the relationship than simply recognizing the work done by that person—an approach that can reinforce the transactional nature of work.
How do we get there? By paying attention to the other person, asking questions, supporting informal exchanges, and spending time together in collaborative mode.
RECOGNITION OF NEEDS
Recognizing the person in their uniqueness also means agreeing to hear and recognize the needs that are specific to them, which are constantly evolving! This can have a reassuring effect and replenish their energy reserves to give them the momentum to continue.
To achieve this goal, listening, flexibility, and personalization are essential. New, flexible organizational measures, such as remote work, f lexible schedules, and diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, could offer the greatest advantage in this sense. They facilitate the development of measures to better support the meeting of these needs (through work or outside of work).
And the other types of recognition?
The three other types of recognition are more conventional, but no less important. It’s worth distinguishing between them, since you can offer recognition and still wonder why your team members don’t feel fully recognized. The use of multiple types is key!
RECOGNITION OF EFFORT AND INVESTMENT
This refers to everything relating to the duration as well as the intensity of the investment or effort. It is therefore not at all outdated to recognize people’s seniority or their overtime, investment in a special project, or perseverance on a difficult file, regardless of the result.
In some cases, recognition of effort and investment can also lead people to take a little break and take care of themselves instead of constantly pushing themselves in the hope of receiving recognition.
Caution: be careful not to recognize only the “extra” effort and investment, but to recognize everyone’s effort and investment, even on a daily basis.
RECOGNITION OF WORK PRACTICE
For its part, this type of recognition refers to the way of doing things. In other words, it’s like saying: “I watched you working, I saw your work, and I recognize the care you bring to it, the work ethic you demonstrate, and your interpersonal skills and know-how.”
For example, asking an employee to train another resource can be a sign of recognition of their work practice, as can recognizing a person’s agility, openness, or spirit of learning (and not just excellence).
RECOGNITION OF RESULTS OR THEIR IMPACT
In conclusion, this type of recognition can be very powerful, since it completes the circle of all the investment and effort made. This kind of recognition offers an instant self esteem boost to the members of a team because it reminds them of the reason for their affiliation: accomplishing things together.
Finally, recognition is less a formal practice than a way of being and communicating. The thing to remember, therefore, is that it is necessary to give meaning to the recognition.
Then, you just need to find your style and adapt it to the needs and preferences of your collaborators, both at work and in life, in order to offer them the meaningful recognition that they really need, increase their feeling of motivation, and thereby build a human, lasting, and—above all—sincere collaborative relationship.
Because wellness is one of its core values, Strøm Nordic Spa now offers all its employees a Balance Day. This annual day of leave allows everyone to take a moment for themselves by enjoying the thermal experience at the Strøm of their choice.