Why Is Employee Recognition So Big A Management Problem?

APPLAUSEby Victor Lipman

Here’s one management issue I’ve never fully understood. Everybody likes to feel they’re doing a good job; most everybody likes to feel like their manager recognizes that and values their contributions. And virtually all managers understand, in theory at least, that it makes good business sense to recognize employees for jobs well done. There’s nothing complicated about it. So why is employee recognition so big a problem? Why is it so persistent an issue?

Let me give additional context. During my decades in management I was involved in many employee surveys, both as an employee taking them and as a member of the management team reviewing the results and implementing solutions based on the findings. The one issue that recurred in literally every survey I was involved with was employee recognition. Employees never got enough of it – it was always a pain point.

Companies tend to respond to such findings by coming up with formal, often bureaucratic employee recognition programs: Employee of the Month, various leadership and innovation awards and so forth. While such official programs are OK – usually they’re positive enough and do no harm – when you delve into the situation more deeply what you generally find is that what employees are really looking for is more personal. Personal recognition from their direct manager. Nothing fancy, nothing involving selection by committee that takes months to determine – simply the occasional word of praise, encouragement, thank you, or pat on the back for a job well done.

In praise of praise – All of these small but valued forms of management recognition have a common cost: zero dollars and zero cents. And all have a common management investment of time and energy: minimal. So why is this kind of recognition a common management stumbling block? Why are employees so frequently frustrated by managers who are parsimonious with praise?

I’m not entirely sure. That’s why I maintain the mishandling of recognition is a puzzling aspect of management. Naturally recognition should only be given where it’s genuinely warranted. Providing it where it’s not deserved does nothing but undermine management credibility. But when an employee deserves it, why withhold a word or gesture of praise? It costs nothing and requires little effort.

Some managers and companies are better at it than others. No doubt. Yet in the aggregate, national survey data from organizations like Gallup still places employee engagement levels around the 30 percent mark, meaning the vast majority of employees are not engaged, not emotionally committed to their companies, and likely not working at full productive capacity. While a number of factors contribute to such widespread disengagement, it’s a very safe bet that employee recognition – or more accurately, the lack of it – is a substantive component in this disaffected mix.

So here I’d like solicit some readers’ opinions – from both employees and managers. Why is employee recognition a big persistent problem? It shouldn’t be a difficult managerial function, yet it seems to be.

Why is this the case? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

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Robin Williams And The No Asshole Rule

The news about Robin Williams’ death is so sad; he was such a great and rare talent. Just like so many of you, I can’t quite believe it. I never met Robin. I was, however, helped enormously by someone close to him. It is a long story, but based on Robin’s experience with a nearly identical medical condition, she helped me choose a heart surgeon. Partly as a result of her detailed advice, in 2010, I ended having a “cow valve” replacement for my aortic valve performed at the Cleveland Clinic by a wonderful surgeon named Mark Gillinov — just as Robin had a couple years earlier.

And I have an especially revealing story about how Robin treated others. Back in 2006, I spent several days in a recording studio in San Francisco narrating the audio version of my book The No Asshole Rule. At one point, I read a part about how, in my opinion, one of the best tests of a human being is how well or badly he or she treats others with less power. Right after I read this section, the two engineers I was working with began talking about various famous people they had worked with in this and other studios over the years.

I asked them: Who was the most civilized and who was the biggest asshole? They answered the second question first — they both agreed that the biggest asshole was Dr. Phil. It took them a few minutes longer to answer the first question, but they soon agreed it was Robin Williams. They declined to give me any details about Dr. Phil, but were quite specific about why Robin was their favorite: He talked to them, asked for their opinions, joked with them, asked if they were comfortable, and in general treated them with warmth and respect.

Robin was, in the eyes of those two engineers, a first-rate human-being, a mensch. We all die, the least of us manage that. Few of us leave such an astounding legacy — in ways both large and small. My heart goes out to his family and friends.

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images


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Robin Williams, an Improvisational Genius, Forever Present in the Moment

Robin Williams was one of the most explosively, exhaustingly, prodigiously verbal comedians who ever lived, says film critic A. O. Scott. And the only thing faster than Williams’s mouth was his mind.

There was no need to turn around: The voices were not talking directly to me and they could not have belonged to anyone other than Robin Williams, who was extemporizing a monologue at least as pyrotechnically amazing as what was unfolding against the Mediterranean sky. I’m unable to recall the details now, but you can probably imagine the rapid-fire succession of accents and pitches — macho basso, squeaky girly, French, Spanish, African-American, human, animal and alien — entangling with curlicues of self-conscious commentary about the sheer ridiculousness of anyone trying to narrate explosions of colored gunpowder in real time.

Very few people would try to upstage fireworks, and probably only Robin Williams could have succeeded. I doubt anyone asked him for his play-by-play, an impromptu performance for a small, captive group, and I can’t say if it arose from inspiration or compulsion. Maybe there’s not really a difference. Whether or not anyone expected him to be, and maybe whether or not he entirely wanted to be, he was on.

Part of the shock of his death on Monday came from the fact that he had been on — ubiquitous, self-reinventing, insistently present — for so long. On Twitter, mourners dated themselves with memories of the first time they had noticed him. For some it was the movie “Aladdin.” For others “Dead Poets Society” or “Mrs. Doubtfire.” I go back even further, to the “Mork and Mindy” television show and an album called “Reality — What a Concept” that blew my eighth-grade mind.

Back then, it was clear that Mr. Williams was one of the most explosively, exhaustingly, prodigiously verbal comedians who ever lived. The only thing faster than his mouth was his mind, which was capable of breathtaking leaps of free-associative absurdity. Janet Maslin, reviewing his standup act in 1979, cataloged a tumble of riffs that ranged from an impression of Jacques Cousteau to “an evangelist at the Disco Temple of Comedy,” to Truman Capote Jr. at “the Kindergarten of the Stars” (whatever that was). “He acts out the Reader’s Digest condensed version of ‘Roots,’ ” Ms. Maslin wrote, “which lasts 15 seconds in its entirety. He improvises a Shakespearean-sounding epic about the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, playing all the parts himself, including Einstein’s ghost.” (That, or something like it, was a role he would reprise more than 20 years later in Steven Spielberg’s “A.I.”)


Robin Williams was an irrepressible performer, on stage and off. CreditGary Settle

Onstage, Mr. Williams’s speed allowed him to test audience responses and to edit and change direction on the fly. He simultaneously explained and acted out this process in “Come Inside My Mind,” a two-and-a-half-minute tour de force of manic meta — “I’m doing great! I’m improvising like crazy! No you’re not, you fool! You’re just doing pee-pee-ca-ca, no substance!” But if Mr. Williams was often self-aware, commenting on what he was doing as he was doing it, he was rarely arch or insincere. He could, as an actor, succumb to treacliness sometimes — maybe more than sometimes — but his essential persona as an entertainer combined neediness and generosity, intelligence and kindness, in ways that were charming and often unexpectedly moving as well.

In his periodic post-“Mork and Mindy” television appearances (on “The Larry Sanders Show” and more recently on “Louie”), he often played sly, sad or surprising versions of himself, the Robin Williams some of us had known and loved since childhood, which means an entertainer we sometimes took for granted or allowed ourselves to tire of. Many of his memorable big-screen performances were variations on that persona — madcap, motor-mouthed, shape-shifting jokers like the genie in “Aladdin,” the anti-authoritarian D.J. in “Good Morning Vietnam,” Parry in “The Fisher King”and even the redoubtable Mrs. Doubtfire herself.

That was a role within a role, of course, and Mr. Williams’s best serious movie characters — or maybe we should say the non-silly ones, since an element of playfulness was always there — had a similar doubleness. Watching him acting in earnest, you could not help but be aware of the exuberance, the mischief, that was being held in check, and you couldn’t help but wonder when, how or if it would burst out. That you knew what he was capable of made his feats of self-control all the more exciting. You sometimes felt that he was aware of this, and that he enjoyed the sheer improbability of appearing as the straight man, the heavy, the voice of reason.

He was very good at playing it cool or quiet or restrained as other actors in his movies — Nathan Lane in “The Birdcage,” Robert DeNiro in“Awakenings,” Matt Damon in “Good Will Hunting” — brought the heat, the noise or the wildness. He was an excellent and disciplined character actor, even as he was also an irrepressible, indelible character, a voice — or voices — that many of us have been hearing for as long as we can remember.


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Grandpa Gets a Puppy

After losing his wife of 63 years and his beloved dog within months, the Vanhaesendonck family decided to give their beloved grandpa a puppy to help him cope with the loss.
“You’re not alone anymore, Grandpa,” the family said.

“And what is his name?” Asks the Grandfather.

The perfect name for man’s best friend. Through a time of grief, this family has made sure that no one feels alone, especially grandpa.
Unbelievably moving.


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For Most Of Us, A Warmer World Has Become The New ‘Normal’


By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent

OSLO, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Global warming has been going on for so long that most people were not even born the last time the Earth was cooler than average in 1985 in a shift that is altering perceptions of a “normal” climate, scientists said.

Decades of climate change bring risks that people will accept higher temperatures, with more heatwaves, downpours and droughts, as normal and complicate government plans to do more to cut emissions of greenhouse gas emissions.

“Because the last three decades have seen such a significant rise in global and regional temperatures, most people under the age of 30 have not lived in a world without global warming,” Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO), told Reuters.

“On human timescales the changes in our climate can seem gradual, so we will increasingly need to remind the public about just how rapid and unprecedented the changes truly are,” Jarraud said.

February 1985 was the last month when global temperatures were below the 20th century average, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a leading source of global temperature data.

Meanwhile, the estimated median age of the world population in 2014 is 29.4 years, meaning half are older and half younger, Francois Pelletier of the U.N. Population Division told Reuters.

Taken together, the NOAA and U.N. yardsticks mean the world’s 7.2 billion population has shifted in recent weeks for the first time to a majority born since the last cool month.

“People have to get used to continuous change in the climate,” said Thomas Peterson, principal scientist at NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center and president of the WMO Commission for Climatology.

Some other weather agencies, using differing methods and baselines, estimate later dates for the most recent cold month than NOAA. The WMO, which compiles annual data, says 1985 was the last colder-than-average year.

Global averages go largely unnoticed because individuals experience weather and climate locally – this past winter was bitterly cold in parts of North America, for instance. But the overall warming trend is clear.


Peter Thorne, a climate researcher at the Nansen Environmental and Remote Sensing Center in Bergen, west Norway, said people are more likely to remember extreme weather events than to notice any fractional rise in temperatures.

“Heatwaves, droughts and extreme floods are more likely to trigger associations with climate change,” he said. And more extremes could in turn put pressure on governments to act.

Almost 200 governments have agreed to work out a deal to slow global warming at a summit in Paris in late 2015, mainly by cutting emissions of greenhouse gases from cars, power plants and factories.

Governments have promised to limit warming to below 2 degrees (3.6F) above pre-industrial times – average temperatures have already risen by about 0.8C (1.4F).

Peterson said historical records of average temperatures, used by everyone from farmers planning crops to companies deciding how much insulation to install in new buildings, were no longer a reliable guide to the future.

His WMO commission said last month that the concept of “normal” weather should to be updated more frequently to take better account of warming.

Currently, the WMO period for normal weather is 1961-1990 and is due to be replaced by 1991-2020 in 2021. The Commission wants rolling updates every decade, meaning the current period would be 1981-2010 and become 1991-2020 in 2021. (Reporting By Alister Doyle; Editing by Toby Chopra and Raissa Kasolowsky)


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Relationship App is ‘Too Explicit’ For Google.

Google has banned a magazine app for being too sexually explicit – despite it containing no nude imagery or erotic stories.

Raw Attraction Magazine is an independent publication which caters for men and women who want to improve their dating and relationships.

Yet the magazine’s app has been removed from the Google Play Store – where it had been available for download to Android mobile phone devices.

Google would only give the reason that the app is “too explicit”. An appeal by the magazine’s founder and editor Steve Burford has been refused.

In an email to Mr Burford Google stated: “We have reviewed your appeal and will not be reinstating your app. This decision is final and we will not be responding to any additional emails regarding this removal.”

The app remains available for download to Apple devices through iTunes where it has hundreds of positive reviews.

Mr Burford said he was puzzled by Google’s decision to remove the app for being too explicit. He said: “I can’t understand it as we have never had so much as a photo of a bare nipple in the magazine.

“There are far more explicit apps available in the Google Play Store. If you use an Android device and search ‘sex’ you will find ‘A man’s guide to oral sex’ and ‘A woman’s guide to oral sex’

“There’s also ‘The Porn Stars Guide to Great Sex’ and ‘The Ultimate Guide To Anal Sex’ as well as many other sex based books or apps.

“Yet our little magazine promoting relationship advice is the one that gets picked on and banned and they won’t even explain why except to say it’s ‘too explicit’. I really am at a loss to understand this.

“Google’s non communication is farcical. Our mission is to educate men and women about the truth of our sexuality. For too long this information has been suppressed.

“For Google to shut us out from the Android market, 55% of the market, for no good reason is wholly unfair. It is a huge setback for a small, independent startup “

The contents of this email and any attachments are the property of The London PR Agency and are intended for the confidential use of the named recipients only. If you are not the intended recipient please notify us immediately at or on 020 7193 0566. Any disclosure, copying or distribution is prohibited.


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100 Internet Marketing Experts Speaking at SMX in NYC


More than 100 of the world’s most knowledgeable internet marketers will present at Search Marketing Expo – SMX East, September 30 – October 2 in New York City. They’ll share what makes them successful, what keeps them up at night, and what you’ll need to know to succeed in the next year.

You’ll hear from:

  • Brand marketers from the Fortune 500, e-retailers and innovative startups. Learn the latest from IBM, Expedia, The New York Times, Intel, BET Networks, Ford Motor Company, Cisco and more.
  • Experts from full-service and boutique agencies with experience managing countless campaigns of all shapes and sizes.
  • Speakers from Google, Bing, Yahoo and other media companies will be there too. Don’t miss your chance to put your questions directly to the search engines.

See who’s speaking.

Insights on Leveraging Viral Content from BuzzFeed Founder & CEO Jonah PerettiEveryone talks about creating buzz, but few have mastered the art of creating viral content like Jonah Peretti. Jonah’s the founder of BuzzFeed, the wildly popular social news and entertainment site that scores huge successes with quizzes, listicles and even long-form content.

Join Jonah and Search Engine Land / Marketing Land founding editor Danny Sullivan for a wide-ranging probe of topics including compelling uses of social media, the new wave of brands and native advertising, where search marketing fits into the mix and more.

Register for SMX East today. All Access passes are just $1695, which includes 3 days of sessions, networking activities, breakfast, lunch and snacks.

Want to send your team? You save an additional 15-35% when registering three or more people. Check out our attractive team registration rates.

Helpful SMX East Links:

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | SEM Industry: Conferences | SEM Industry: Search Marketing Expo – SMX | SMX & DMD Alerts


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