The World Is Bigger and We Are Smaller – The Paradox of Recognition…

Paul Hebert Culture, Employee Relations, Engagement and Satisfaction, Good HR, Paul Hebert, Recognition, Total Rewards

When you don’t know what you don’t know, you’re very happy.

If you are the best football player in a small town – you’re the best. Until you find out there is another town, a bigger town with a better football player a few miles down the road. Somehow that makes your recognition less valuable. You are no longer special. You are no longer the best. You are simply the best in your small world. And that isn’t good enough anymore.

The fact is, your world expanded and you shrank.

The internet has taken that fact, and mixed in steroids and meth. Now we judge ourselves against 6 billion people instead of the 100 or so we work and socialize with each day.

We Crave Judgment Amongst Billions – But Value Just One

As I pondered this issue – judging our value against an ever-increasing pool of comparisons, I thought that it is a no win situation. As we increase the number of folks we compare ourselves to, we decrease the value we have. Think income. If you are the richest man in Bedford Falls, you are rich. When you add in Bill Gates and Mark Zukerberg you’re a pan-handler. Before you knew about Gates and Zukerberg you were happy. Now you are miserable.

But the reality is that while we may want to judge ourselves against the masses – we value what individuals think. Just about everyone wants to be on the cover of Time Magazine, but we are happier when our spouse puts their arm around us at a party and says “I was lucky to land this one.” That makes us happy. That connects us.

While we may want to be recognized as the best in the world, what we ultimately value is the recognition we get from one important person.

Employee Appreciation Day

Friday, March 4, is Employee Appreciation day. It started about 15 years ago as a way to remind companies to take the time to appreciate their employees. I believe that a great manager finds ways to recognize their employees every day (or at least often enough that they know their first names) so I’m not a huge fan of separating out one day of the year for recognition.

But, maybe having a day set aside for thinking about employee appreciation will help managers think about how they can connect with their employees at a smaller, individualized level.

Use Employee Appreciation day to find a way to connect one-to-one with each person on your team. Make them huge in your eyes. Don’t make them small by comparing them to everyone – make them big by valuing what and who they are individually.

It is a paradox. We want recognition on a large scale but value recognition from just one.

Shrink someone’s world and make him or her valuable to you.

Ask yourself, how will I make someone large this week? Next week? All year?