Recognise This! – Recognition serves an important role of communicating what’s most important. Be sure the right message is being conveyed.

Those in HR likely know the research that poor performers don’t actually know they are poor performers. They think they are better than they are. (I’ve written before about the effect these employees have on your high performers.) But what about your high performers? They know they’re the stars, right?

Not necessarily. The “worse-than-average effect” kicks in for the truly competent. From Psyblog:

“This means that when you’re good at something, you tend to assume that other people are good at it as well. So, when you’re faced with a difficult task that you are good at, you underestimate your own ability.”

It’s quite possible that your top performers are so good, they don’t realise just how good they are. While interesting in itself, I’m more curious if this “worse-than-average” effect could explain some of the push back I often hear about the importance of employee recognition.

This is the difference with recognition that gets results (drives greater business goals, increases employee engagement, productivity and retention, etc.). Focussing recognition on the behaviours demonstrated and the greater meaning of the effort overcomes the stumbling block of, “Wait. Why am I being recognised for this? Isn’t it easy?”

Recognising behaviours demonstrated in line with your core values emphasises the importance of getting results in the rightway. Explaining the greater meaning or impact of the effort helps the recognition recipient see how their contribution helped another person, the team, the company or the customer. This gives insight into the real outcomes of daily efforts done well.

The moral – even if something is “easy” for you, it may not be for others. Recognise contributions, level of effort and impact, but never forget to also recognise the “how” – the way in which others work, too.