Possibly we can remember several occasions that we have been recognized in our job, in the educational institute, at home or other instance in which we may be socializing and even sometimes, we can promote these recognitions in others for some quality or virtue that we identify in them.

In this sense I would like to mention the importance of recognition in our performance, how it motivates us to continue repeating some behavior or habit, and facilitates collaboration with some purpose.

Let’s start by defining the term “Recognition“, according to the R.A.E. it is “the action and effect of recognizing or acknowledging oneself”. In this sense we can understand that it is the ability to identify qualities, skills in someone.

Knowing this, I invite you to look for a memory in your childhood, where you can identify a family member (mom, dad, aunts, cousins) or close friend who represents that person who recognized in us some behavior, ability, skill and rewarded us in some way.

Did you remember the person and any special situation? In my memories I have my mother who always told me in public how smart I was to solve complex situations, which I faced at such a young age and rewarded me in front of the family with the simple gesture of commenting loudly the achievements and made me feel like a powerful child.

I remember that as a child I started playing chess, participated in several tournaments and occupied intermediate places in the standings; in high school I always had the idea of enrolling my class in sports tournaments despite not being great athletes; I organized parties and I was lousy at dancing; and in general my classmates always supported my initiatives and at that time I was not aware of my ability to influence others.

In my professional life I remember the times when the Vice President of a specific area in the company I was serving asked me to collaborate to generate a report that indicated some results for the different business units in relation to certain expenses offered by an automated application for the control of travel, transfers and lodging expenses. This VP recognized me in public and gave me a sense of power.

But can recognition hurt us?

During these years I have observed that there are many types of recognition and they should be applied in different situations, because if we do it inappropriately we may be reinforcing some undesired habits in the wrong way.

A desired result that favors the team or a specific person deserves to be recognized and we must do it in an assertive way to avoid distortion or deviation of the purpose to be recognized. To avoid misinterpretations, I like to share the following aspects when recognizing:

  1. Be genuine when recognizing others, showing the meaning that represents for the team such action, quality or behavior and evidencing it with the desired authenticity.
  2. Be clear and specific in the reasons for which the person is recognized, for this it is important to indicate the exact action that was performed and the value or contribution it generated. Do not leave between the lines the explanation of the recognition, so you can avoid an inadequate interpretation of the facts that deserve to be recognized.
  3. Highlight the values that benefit from the contribution made by the person and in this way align the recognition with those values that are important to you or to the community you are part of.
  4. Lead by example, there is always an opportunity to recognize some positive activity of the day. Do so and promote by example the importance of recognition among co-workers.
  5. Personal style gives recognition an opportunity to consolidate bonds, so take advantage of various resources such as digital cards, applications, meeting spaces, etc. to highlight those facts that were of great help. Do it with your personal touch and make a difference.

The structure for recognition:

There is a powerful tool used to provide feedback with the desired impact, it is called “The Feedback Ladder”, which consists of 4 simple steps:

  1. The fact;
  2. The emotion;
  3. The Impact and
  4. The agreement.


Let’s imagine a work team in the middle of a project and with some inconveniences that are increasing the stress level and that can be a negative factor in the desired results. In the middle of the chaos, a collaborator invites the team to calm down, suggests that they stop for 3 seconds to take a deep breath and relax the muscles; and begins to organize the contribution of each member from a calmer invitation.

The project leader observes the results immediately generated by this action. At the end of the day, he/she calls the collaborator and in front of his/her colleagues performs the recognition with the 4 steps:

Gentlemen, I want to recognize the important contribution made by Pablo for having invited us to take a deep breath in the middle of the chaos (The fact), this made me feel the calm I needed (the emotion) and now I can tell you that it allowed me to focus better on the solution of the problem, where we obtained 3 favorable options and especially because in this company our people are the most important value (The impact).

Pablo, would it be possible to maintain that attitude in the next meetings to inject that calmness that is good for all of us? (The agreement).

This structure allows us to point out the action in a clear and specific way, the contribution it provides to the team or to the person who performs the recognition, and especially ensures that good habits are reinforced so that others can imitate such behaviors, generating a harmonious and affectionate environment.

Giving recognition does not guarantee improved productivity or a sense of belonging. That is why it is important to be sincere when giving recognition, and with the structure outlined above, we will be focusing on the action that needs to be reinforced so that others can model such behavior.

Many of us like that pat on the back, hearing the phrase “Very good” or the simple sound of applause fills us with happiness and invites us to continue acting in the same way. Therefore, if we are seen as hypocritical at the moment of recognition, we will generate an abrupt rupture in the relationship of trust with that person.

Many times, we can have the best intentions when recognizing others for their qualities, actions or results, but it is essential to do it in a timely manner with an appropriate structure in front of the team so that everyone can celebrate the important contribution and the impact it generates in the team. It is essential that this recognition feels warm, human and from sincerity, so it can be a great ally for many to begin to imitate this good habit and favor the work environment.