Recognise This! -Recognition done wrong can be more harmful than no recognition at all.

I’ve written about recognition gone wrong several times. One of my favorite posts on the topic is on Compensation Cafe, telling the stories of “rewards” that totally demotivate – forced dancing, iPod for a deaf employee, fire walking.

But none can compare to the pointy-haired boss in Dilbert. Kudos to Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert for expressing so clearly two of the key hazards of recognition gone wrong – lack of knowledge about your people and what they do every day.


“So…you’re giving an award for something you don’t understand…to someone who wasn’t involved?” I’d like to believe this only happens in the comics, but sadly, I know that’s not true.

Lessons we can learn:

1) Know your team members; know their skills and talents; know when they contribute exceptionally.

2) Recognise appropriately, with detailed information. Avoid getting the name wrong during the big presentation, like what happened to this guy.

But most telling of all is perhaps Alice’s reaction to receiving recognition she did not deserve. Recognition of anything is so uncommon in the Dilbert workplace, receiving any kind of praise – even generic and undeserved – can cause a highly undesired reaction – competitive gloating.

More frequent recognition of employees who demonstrate your company values in achievement of strategic objectives ensures employees feel appreciated for the work they do. More importantly, they know their efforts are noticed and valued, giving greater meaning to their work.

What kind of recognition occurs in your workplace?

Thank you! Your subscription has been confirmed. You'll hear from us soon.