Monday, January 10, 2011

The Importance of Recognition

In a previous post I mentioned that I am President of my Corporate Toastmasters Club. The club is a little more than a year old, and it meets twice a month. One of the challenges that I am finding in my role as President is keeping people interested. The first major milestone for most members of the club is to complete 10 speeches. When you have 20-30 members, and only 3 speeches per meeting, it can take a while to reach 10 speeches. At the moment we have 3 members with more than 4 speeches. So how do you keep the interest?

The answer: recognize other accomplishments. For instance, the number one fear of human beings is Public Speaking. The first time a person stands up in front of the club to speak can be a nerve racking adventure. That should be recognized, so I created a certificate for that. Now our members have a sense of accomplishment that can be displayed (it isn't bad advertising for the club either, if it is displayed at their desk).

The second recognition happens at the 5 speech mark. Again, another certificate was created and distributed when you reach this half-way milestone. The reason for these two milestones isn't just to give the individual members something to shoot for, but also to show people that progress is being made. If recognition doesn't happen, then the group as a whole starts to feel like there isn't any forward progress. That can make it difficult for people to stay motivated.

One final action I performed as President (so far) was the recognition of my Executive Board by purchasing pins that indicate which role they are fulfilling. However, I didn't just hand the pins out to the board. Instead, I asked each board member to come forward during a club meeting. I then explained the role of each position, as well as individual accomplishments for that specific person. I then handed over the pin, with a hand-shake, and charged the person to continue to do excellent work that they already started.

So, why was that important? First, it provides that recognition in front of the club. The recipient feels a sense of accomplishment, and also value because he/she is being publicly recognized. Second, it motivates that person to continue to do well, since an expectation was set in front of an audience. Finally, it provides motivation to the audience. A lot of people want to be recognized. This provides them another outlet to achieve that recognition.

I have other plans as the members get to 10 speeches. I will describe these forms of recognition in the future as my team gets closer to those accomplishments. In the meantime, how do you as a leader recognize people who do well? A leader should publicly praise his staff, so what recommendations do you have for recognition? Gift certificates? Ribbons? A public acknowledgement during meetings? What else works to not only motivate the recipient, but the team as well?


  1. Great job, Matt! Keep up the good work. - Jan Poscovsky, District 56 Governor, 2010/2011

  2. Matt - Good idea with the mid-point recognition. Speaking of recognizing other achievements, at my club we recognize the weekly Table Topics winner by letting them take the traveling TT cup trophy (about 6" high on a marble base) which they typically display on their office desk for the week.