At the risk of accusations of self indulgence, I received an award last week. It was a T shirt. And it made me ridiculously happy, indeed as I type this I’m smiling again.

This is how it happened.

Over a year ago, after months of trying to find a personal trainer near to where I live, (a place with no street lights for 5 miles, roads too narrow to fit a bus down and where the sound of owls both send me to sleep and are still going strong when I wake), I discovered Specialist Performance Personal Training (SPPT It’s the best gym I’ve ever been to, so good that the 40 minute drive each way, that’s five hours a week on average, is worth it (I get through a lot of audiobooks).

In January, like many others, I decided to take things up a gear and go four times a week rather than my previous three. The 1/3 increase has been really worthwhile and I’m fitter than I’ve been for quite some time. And clearly the trainers/owners of the gym noticed, as I was awarded “Member of the Month” and the photo is me receiving my T shirt at 5.50am last Thursday.

This is what I learned, why it matters and what you might learn too.

I’ve still got my Barratt, Sales Manager Award from 1984.
I’ve kept a note that accompanied a bonus I received, (at the time the biggest ever and exceeding my annual salary). I’ve kept the note but can’t recall at all what I spent the bonus on, it’s completely forgotten.
I have several keepsakes from my daughter over the years but one in particular is very special where she tells me what she’s learned from me – it’s perhaps my most valuable possession.

Of course I’m talking about the power of recognition and how even now, 40 years into my career, receiving positive feedback still has an enormous impact.

In the last month, I’ve heard many of our members discuss their latest remuneration and incentive programmes, some of which are quite excellent and I’m sure will focus their teams on the important things but for the most part these come a long way second to a brilliant recognition programme. Of course people have to be paid the going rate, ideally have the chance to earn significantly above it, but money only goes so far. Being recognised by your boss, colleagues, family – even the gym – means so much more.

When I had a large team I used to keep a note of each person and when I last gave them recognition and what it was they’d done and how I’d acknowledged it. I kept this note to myself and have been subsequently told by several former colleagues, “you were really good at spontaneously recognising us when we achieved things.” There was nothing spontaneous about it. I knew then, and even more now, how important recognition is and developed a system to make sure I didn’t overlook anyone. It’s easy to acknowledge those who you work most closely with and more those who you like the most but what about the others? That’s why, even if you think you’re good at this, I urge you to create a simple spreadsheet and once a week review it to notice who you haven’t recognised recently and then go and catch them doing something well for you to acknowledge.

The more senior our role the less recognition we tend to receive and this might cause us to forget its importance as we have to become self sufficient in this respect. That would be a mistake. As I was reminded when I received a T shirt, it matters a lot, (and the best bit of all is it’s a size ‘Large’ and not an XL!).

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