When I was a trainer for Xerox, I took pride in my performance in the classroom.  After all, that’s what I was paid to do.  Every class ended with an evaluation form completed by the students, and those evaluations were strong.  I was immensely proud of my high standing within the training professionals at Xerox.  During my entire training career, I never received any formal recognition… even once.

 

To be a trainer at Xerox meant you were a high performer in the field, and that meant every trainer possessed a competitive fire in their bellies.  I never expected recognition from my peers, and quite frankly, I rarely received it.

 

My confusions centered on management’s reaction to my success.  The silence was deafening, and that made me angry.  Why wouldn’t management want to celebrate my accomplishments?  There are a handful of concerns, but let’s look at three…

  1. There is concern from management that what feels like pride from an individual, might be perceived as pompous by others.
  2. There is concern from management that formal recognition of an individual in the training area might be viewed as a guarantee of a raise when performance reviews are done.
  3. There is concern from management that celebrating an individual’s performance, in front of the rest of their team,  might be perceived as favoritism and demotivate the team.

 

Unfortunately, these fears are more myths than real concerns…

 

  1. There is concern from management that what feels like pride from an individual, might be perceived as pompous by others. Myth.  Much like an athlete who has been in the end zone before, individuals who work to accomplish great things typically maintain a low profile.
  2. There is concern from management that formal recognition of an individual in the training area might be viewed as a guarantee of a raise when performance reviews are done. Myth.  I consider it unconscionable that most managers have never been taught how to give recognition.  One of the key principles of recognition is to be as specific as possible.  That makes the person you are recognizing feel the remarks are genuine, and protects the manager during a performance review if other performance criteria are not being met. 
  3. There is concern from management that celebrating an individual’s performance, in front of the rest of their team might be perceived as favoritism and demotivate the team. Well, they’re right there.  Ironically most high performers would prefer NOT to be recognized in public, but rather in private.

 

The bottom-line is this:  It’s about time we stop demotivating top performers with various concerns that are actually more myth then reality.  It’s okay to recognize our top performers, and if we don’t, they’ll leave.  I am an example of that same phenomenon:  I loved working for Xerox, and I thought I was going to work there for my entire life. I left Xerox 19 years ago, and I left because I grew tired of waiting for management to recognize my performance.  I was not going to wait any longer for them to move past the myths that skewed their perceptions.  I became a casualty of performance and recognition.

 

I am not alone. Fact:  In a poll conducted by Zenger/Miller it was found that over 86% of individuals who terminate from a job, do so because they feel a lack of recognition for their performance.  Stay tuned because next week I’d like to show you how to remedy this situation.

 

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