Recognition involves what people do; appreciation involves who they are.

Editor’s note: This article is from WeChat public account “Harvard Business Review” ( ID: hbrchinese).

Recognition and appreciation. We usually use these words interchangeably and think they are the same thing. But despite their importance, there are still huge differences between the two. Understanding this distinction is important for leaders who want their teams to thrive, and for companies who want to create a culture of professionalism, loyalty, and high performance.

Recognition is positive feedback based on results or performance. Sometimes this kind of thing comes in a formal form: rewards, bonuses, promotions, raises. Sometimes recognition is expressed more informally: verbal thanks, handwritten notes. All of these approaches can make sense, especially when they are implemented in a timely and sincere manner. They can also be motivated and inspiring-everyone wants their achievements to be praised.

Recognition has some limitations. First, it is performance-based and therefore conditional. Second, it’s based on the past, so it’s about what people have done. Third, it is scarce. The number of recognitions available is limited-not everyone can get a bonus or a memo-and when many people scramble for limited praise, it can be very stressful. Fourth, it must always come from the top. Many companies have plans that allow colleagues to emphasize each other’s efforts, but the main forms of recognition (promotions, pay raises, etc.) are usually awarded by senior leaders.

Although recognition, including monetary compensation, can be great, researchers at the London School of Economics have found that monetary stimulus can actually be counterproductive in motivating employees. According to the analysis of 51 experiments, “these incentives may reduce the natural tendency of employees to complete tasks and get happiness from them.”

On the other hand, appreciation is the recognition of a person’s intrinsic value. The focus is not on their achievements, but on their value as colleagues or as individuals.

In short, recognition involves what people do; appreciation involves who they are.

This distinction is important because recognition and appreciation are given for different reasons. Even when people are successful, they will inevitably encounter failures and challenges along the way; depending on the project, they may not even be able to point out specific results. If you focus only on praising positive results and only recognition, then you have missed many opportunities to communicate with and support team members-appreciate them.

A few years ago, Oprah Winfrey gave a performance at Harvard’s graduation ceremony.This was strongly mentioned in the lecture.

I have to say that the only and most important lesson I have learned from talking to people every day for 25 years is that our human experience has one thing in common … the common thing I find in each interview is, We want to be recognized, we want to be understood. I have conducted more than 35,000 interviews in my career. When the camera is off, everyone will always turn to me and inevitably ask this question in their own way: “Is that okay?” I heard President Bush asked, I heard President Obama asked, I heard heroes and housewives Yes, I have heard from victims and criminals, and I even heard from Beyonce with Beyonce’s temperament … (all of us) want to know one thing: “Is this okay?” “You hear me Did you say something? “” Did you see me? “” Does what I say make sense to you? “

Oprah is talking about appreciation. When we express appreciation to our colleagues, customers, managers, and partners, we are more likely to build trust and good relationships.

Here are a few simple ways to show appreciation to those around you:

Listen. One of the best things you can do for the people you work with is one of the easiest things: drop your phone, leave your computer, and listen to them in good faith.

Tell others what you value about them. Taking the initiative to do it-not because someone has done something great, or because you have plans for them-is an infectious gift. It can positively affect how your colleagues feel about themselves, your relationship with them, and team culture.

Say hello. I really like what Teddy Roosevelt usually says: “Until people know how much you care, they don’t care how much you know.” No matter who said it, it is An excellent reminder. Say hello to the people you work with. Ask them how they are doing (and sincere greetings) and what challenges they are facing now to let them know you care about them.

If you are a manager, it is especially important to show appreciation to employees. In Glassdoor’s employee appraisal survey, 53% said that feeling more appreciation from their boss helped them stay longer in the company-although 68% said that their boss has expressed enough appreciation for them . Talking about experience? The better, the better.

As I explored in this TEDx talk on this topic, great leaders must successfully focus and develop appreciation and recognition. To understand the difference in business (and in life), all of us can benefit from it. Recognition is appropriate and necessary when it is won and worthy of recognition. However, appreciation is important from beginning to end.

Author introduction

Mike Robbins(Mike Robbins) | Text

Mike Robbins has four books, including his latest book, Bring Your Whole Self to Work. He is a highly sought after speaker and consultant and has worked with leaders, teams and Fortune 500 companies for the past 20 years.

Shi Qingjing | Editing