Recognizing employees effectively : A successful business strategy

Imagine Mr. Leblanc, an employee of yours for the past 18 months, walks into your office and hands you the weekly report you requested from him. To recognize his act, you give him a warm thank you that puts a sceptical look on his face. As he leaves, you wonder why your comment didn’t seem to have had the affect you intended.

Have you ever taken the time to praise the efforts of a member of your organization and felt like you missed the mark ?

You’re not the only one. In the United States, 90% businesses claim to have put recognition programs into place. However, 60% of American employees feel they haven’t been recognized and only 30% are truly engaged in their work1.

The cost incurred for lack of effectiveness at engaging American employees is estimated between $450 and $550 billion in annual productivity loss2.

Less engaged employees are more likely to be less productive, attribute less importance to discretionary efforts which support corporate goals, and negatively influence dedicated employees3.


Thankfully, an employee’s motivation and commitment level can change. You’ve likely noticed an employee become either more or less engaged after the arrival of a new manager, for example.

In an effort to be more effective in his recognition interventions, André Savard, author of “Maîtriser la reconnaissance au quotidien,” offers a tool for recognizing all employees in the appropriate way.

Simply classify the individual in one of the five profile types he has presented and apply the most suitable recognition strategy for encouraging their engagement.


The Conscript:

Description: They drag themselves to work and lack motivation. They never take initiative and resist all tasks from their work description.

Recognition: They don’t want to be there, so thank them ! Applaud the loyalty and quality of their work, spend time with them, and highlight any strengths demonstrated.


The Commando

Description : They enjoy their work, and love demonstrating their abilities and showing off. They are often more attached to their profession than the organization that has hired them. They want to advance professionally and work must provide them with opportunities to do so. They appreciate being recognized by colleagues and management. They want to give their opinion on how things should be done.

Recognition : Point out the smart moves that no one but them would have thought to make. Give them the opportunity to progress and build on their expertise. Label them an expert in front of others. Provide them with the best work tools available. Give them the freedom to decide how to do things.


The Mercenary

Description : The hard work they do is first and foremost for themselves and then for the company. They want to succeed at all costs, sometimes even at the expense of the common good. They have a tendency to compare themselves to others and make them aware of the struggles they’ve overcome. They generally surpass goals and ensure others know about it.

Recognition : Give them the challenges they need. Emphasize the difficulty of their future tasks. Reward them with privileges associated to specific successes. Create a competitive environment for them.


The Officer

Description : They actively participate in the organization’s project and are aware of their impact on the ultimate result. They value loyalty to the organization over their profession. They excel in all assignments given to them.

Recognition : Ask them to represent the organization outside of work or sit on a committee. Demonstrate your confidence in their work and respect for them. Ask for their opinion on subjects outside of their range of expertise.


The Deserter

Description : Working every morning proves to be a source of frustration and even aggressiveness. They are deterred simply by working for you. They have a negative influence on everyone at the organization.

Strategy : Do not tolerate dysfunctional behaviour. Be very clear about your expectations. Give them the ultimatum to either change or quit.

After reading the above profiles, you were likely able to identify some of your employees or colleagues.


Keep in mind that daily recognition is an excellent tool for converting conscripts, commandos, and mercenaries into officers and retaining any officers you already have.


By implementing this simple tool into your organization, you will be able to develop a competitive edge in terms of productivity, supporting the organization’s vision, retaining talent, and even happiness at work !



Associate, Leadership and Team building Coach