Recognition as a Feedback System: Managing the Rhythms

bob's Blog Dr. Bob Nelson

I feel there is a “rhythm” to managing, an ebb and a flow.  A manager has to know his or her employees well enough to know when they need help, encouragement, support or a push.  I’ve had managers tell me that some of their employees can go for months without specific interaction from them, while they need to check in with other employees every few days to see how they are doing. For some employees, especially more senior, tenured ones, the frequency of feedback can be less and is typically preferred to be by such senior employees.  For other employees, especially younger ones, the level of interaction must be much more frequent, even daily – or multiple times a day -- to keep the “rhythm” and maintain the relationship at its peak level of performance.

For all employees, if you rely only on the traditional forms of communication, feedback, and recognition required in most organizations, e.g., annual performance reviews, department meetings, company celebrations, years of service programs, etc. your level of feedback will be woefully inadequate and you will constantly be out of sync in the rhythm of managing your employees.  This is true even if the feedback that is provided is positive.  I remember one Federal employee of the Office of Personnel Management in Washington, DC telling me “My manager didn’t say a word to me about my performance all year long, but gave me the highest ranking on my annual performance review.  I don’t think that’s a very good way to manage.”

Employees need to know along the way that they matter to their manager, and thus to the organization. That’s why feedback mechanisms such as online recognition and rewards programs that allow the option of adjusting communication to meet the needs of employees work best today.  As you get to know the needs and preferences of your employees, you can more easily adjust what you provide for maximum advantage.

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