6 Tips To Increase Peer Recognition in Your Team
Being recognized by your peers may seem underwhelming when compared to getting praised by your boss – but it actually makes a huge difference.
“Too many organizations trust managers and leaders with the exclusive responsibility to recognize their employees’ hard work, and—especially when large volumes of work and bigger teams are involved—some of these achievements might slip off the radar,” says Zoë Morris, president of Frank Recruitment Group, a global specialist IT recruitment agency
“True recognition demonstrates attention and appreciation amongst team members, and reinforces a culture of trust, which is one of the key foundations of high-performing teams,” adds Marriot Winquist, CEO and executive leadership coach and consultant at BrightTree Consulting LLC.
As Morris puts it, championing appreciation between coworkers keeps everyone happier and more productive because they like the people they work with – and also increases retention and cuts down on turnover costs.
Here’s everything you need to know to increase peer recognition in your team.
The dos and don’ts of peer recognition
The greatest mistake organizations make when it comes to peer recognition is solely depending on coworkers to praise someone’s efforts, according to Morris. “As good as everyone’s intentions might be—not everyone’s achievements are glaringly obvious to the rest of the team because unless they carry out the same exact role as their coworkers, the challenges employees face in their day-to-day work tend to be quite specific to their position,” she says.
The solution: Employee recognition efforts that are structured, intentional, and promoted by leadership across all levels of business. Winquist shares some specific dos and don’ts below.
- Be specific about who, what, when, and,most importantly, why
- Be timely: Recognize team members when the situation happens
- Be intentional and lead by example
- Say “great job” and assume that’s recognition
- Force people to provide recognition
- Assume everyone enjoys public peer recognition
How to increase peer recognition in your team
Ready to put those dos and don’ts into practice? Adopt the following guiding principles to increase peer recognition in your team.
1. Be clear
First of all, you want to be clear and straightforward when showing recognition. Lead by example and show your team the way.
“Who is being recognized? What exactly did they do? Why is this important? How did this impact the organization? Being specific helps everyone remember what is important (company and cultural impacts) and what behaviors and values are appreciated,” according to Winquist.
2. Make it easy, fun and timely
There are three magic words for successfully boosting levels of peer recognition: easy, fun, and timely. “Most times, any peer recognition system needs all three to be effective. If communicating their praise for a co-worker is a laborious job for your employees, rest assured that it’s going to be even harder to get them on board,” says Morris.
She recommends creating a process to make sure there is a smooth channel through which team members can send positive feedback, whether via email, a messaging platform or an HR tool.
3. Create incentives
On that note, she also suggests creating incentives around peer recognition, such as a gamified system with points, badges or gifts. The rewards should be clear, achievable, and worth doing – think of extra time off or gift vouchers.
4. Give meaningful feedback
If you want to increase peer recognition in your team, fostering meaningful feedback is another critical habit. “Recognition should be meaningful to those who receive it – and not necessarily to those who give it,” says Winquist.
Get to know team players and what they value. Ask questions and take notes. “Survey the team to understand how to make this meaningful and fun for each person. This means understanding who enjoys public or private recognition and what different types of recognition (verbal, gift, money, etc.) they might prefer,” adds Winquist. Then, follow through. Your team will be delighted and inspired to keep the positivity going.
5. Nail your timing
Timing is also crucial. “Don’t wait till your employees are heading for the exit door to give them the recognition they deserve,” says Morris.
Carving out time and systems to recognize team members on a weekly or monthly basis is great, but you also want to make sure to acknowledge contributions as soon as possible, right after the moment happens. “Even if it’s just a message or an email—it won’t go unnoticed,” she adds.
6. Stay consistent
Finally, it’s important to stay consistent. If you want to reap the benefits of peer recognition, you have to stick with it for a while, and it’s easy to forget about it in the midst of daily work demands.
“Most leaders and peers are not trying to avoid giving recognition,” says Winquist. But people get busy. From incorporating “lightning recognition rounds” into team meetings to inviting staff to send in peer recognition nominations ahead of quarterly all-hands meetings, create opportunities on a consistent basis that allow leaders and peers to give recognition.