How to Recognize Employees According to Their Preferences

HowToDetermineHowToRecognizeEmployeesEmployees are like snowflakes; no two are exactly the same. They have different personalities and varied backgrounds that shape who they are and how they work.

This diversity plays into how they prefer to be recognized as well. Many managers default to how they desire recognition, but this likely differs from the preferences of their employees. Some like to be praised publicly for all to see. More reserved employees appreciate quieter, private recognition.

Even if a manager approaches recognition with proper intent, recognizing an employee in the wrong way can be off-putting and actually decrease engagement.



It's critical that managers take the time to be authentic with their recognition and appreciation efforts. The more you get to know your employees, the better you can decide how to recognize them. We recommend managers just come out and ask each employee, “How do you like to be recognized?”

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The answer to this question uncovers:

  • Whether the employee prefers public or private recognition.
  • What types of work the employee wants to be recognized more. Do they get greater satisfaction from finding ways to be more efficient or expertly handling a difficult customer?
  • When the employee wants to be recognized. Should you wait until the end of a major project or praise minor wins along the way to a greater goal?
  • Whether the employee prefers individual or team accolades. Some love to be trumpeted as the team MVP, while others would rather highlight team efforts.

Get to know your employees on a personal level so you can determine which types of praise they appreciate the most. When you give recognition, pay attention to how they receive it. If they appear uncomfortable, try a different form of recognition the next time around.

Genuine, personalized recognition helps drive engagement. Employees that feel valued by their managers are more likely to work harder, search for ways to improve and grow, and stay with their organization. When you reward hard work, you not only energize the recognized employee, but you set an example for others in the organization of what good work looks like.

For great examples of ways to recognize employees (plus some bad ones to avoid), download our free ebook, The 50 Best and Worst Recognition Comments.


Free ebook! The 50 Best and Worst Employee Recognition Comments