Recognise your employees as individuals

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Recognition is a powerful motivator. Employees want to be treated as true individuals and they want to be valued, not just by their immediate team, but by leaders and others from across the organisation.

But many businesses are not aware of just how much the desire to be recognised and valued as an individual has grown as a result of the disruption discussed in Part 1 of the book. They see their employees just as people employed to do a job, and at best people to be nurtured by the culture and objectives of the business. They certainly don’t see them as individuals.

This waste of talent and energy is something that many companies acknowledge needs to be addressed, but the question is how to go about it. You only need to look at all the initiatives taken by all sizes of organisations to address this waste – employee engagement programmes, team development initiatives, and so on. All recognise the fundamental problem of the waste of talent and productivity.

Addressing people concerns has always been difficult for companies. There’s a tendency to bundle the issue into a seemingly manageable single topic, and the most common is ‘culture’. While attempts to improve culture aim to drive behavioural change, they often miss the basics. What people actually do is more often driven by the difficulty, or the experience, of completing a given task. Once again the company is confronted by the real-world, rather than the world it think exists.

This real-world experience and effort required to complete the task will determine the quality and efficiency, rather than the values of the individual. In fact, the more the company pursues value-based initiatives, the more it risks turning off its employees as it can be seen to question the participants’ values. Company initiatives would be better to demonstrate authenticity to enhance engagement. This is not to diminish the role of values, in fact I see it as completely the opposite: to suggest that values can be so easily manipulated is to understate their importance to people.

In a nutshell, if a business has the value, ‘put the customer first’ or ‘do the right thing for our customers’, then it must also, ‘put the employee first’ and ‘do the right thing for our employees’.