June 23, 2009 | | Comments 5
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Recognize the Everyday Stuff Too!

Quint Studer, a well known healthcare leader who has led hospitals to breakthrough results, is a huge proponent of consistent and frequent employee recognition. One point Studer repeatedly makes in his publications is that many leaders never grasp hold of how vital recognitiofirst-place-ribbonn really is to employee morale.

Here is a sampling of Studer’s argument for giving compliments to staff, from Results That Last (2008): “So why don’t we give more compliments? For one thing, you’ve got to really watch for what someone is doing right and most of us haven’t mastered that art … leaders need to develop the skill sets for noticing incremental improvement because rewarded and recognized behavior gets repeated.” (p. 217).

Sometimes it helps us recognize best practice if we examine the flip side, what Studer calls “myths.” This is Studer’s list of common myths and excuses often cited for not giving staff compliments. Maybe you’ve heard some of them:

  • “If I compliment them too much, they’ll get a big head”
  • “If I tell them they’ve done a good job, they’ll get complacent”
  • “I don’t need any compliments – why should they?”
  • “They should just be happy with a day’s work for a day’s pay – in fact, they should be grateful to have a job at all!”
  • “I can give out only so many compliments in a week.”
  • “This is hokey”
  • (And my all-time favorite) “That’s just fluff-stuff”

Studer says it’s okay if we feel uncomfortable as we begin to recognize and compliment staff. Like the Nike slogan says, Just Do It … and know that it will feel more natural with time. Remember,  recognized behavior gets repeated.

Studer, Q. (2008). Results That Last. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Bonnie Clair About the Author: Bonnie Clair, MSN, RN currently works as Retention Project Manager at CoxHealth in Springfield, MO. Her clinical background includes nursing management, nursing education administration and neonatal flight team. Her bedside nursing experience is comprised of Med Surg, NeuroScience and 15 years in the NICU. She has facilitated development and implementation of a clinical ladder for staff RNs and worked on a steering committee to implement Shared Governance in her health system. Other recent projects include designating parking spaces close to the hospital for pregnant staff and organizing a bi-monthly reunion event for employees reaching their 90th day of employment. She is passionate about nurse retention and relevant nursing education. You may contact her at Bonnie.Clair@coxhealth.com

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  1. Thanks so much for keeping this in front of people. I appreciate your work on this.

  2. Great post! Not only does acknowledging employee efforts increase employee satisfaction, morale, and self-esteem but it can help the organization by creating greater employee engagement and productivity, lower turnover and the ability to attract and retain top quality employees. We’ve compiled some more information on the importance of employee recognition in creating a psychologically healthy workplace, as well as some resources and tips on how to go about recognizing employees, on our site. Feel free to take a look and let us know what you think. http://www.phwa.org/resources/creatingahealthyworkplace/employeerecognition/

  3. Bonnie Clair

    Thank You!

  4. I feel we in Nursing often have the thought that staff is “just doing thier jobs”. This article points out that we need to recognize folks “just doing thier jobs” when they are doing it well. Thanks for the insight

  5. Bonnie Clair

    GREAT perspective Susan! You’re so right when you note that often we feel our staff are simply doing their job – so no feedback from us is necessary. However, if we focus our attention on those who are “doing it right” instead of focusing so much attention on those who aren’t, those low performers will either step up to the plate or “get off the bus”. Keeping in mind that recognized behavior gets repeated – we definitely want to direct our attention to the behavior we want to see repeated. Thanks for your comments! ~Bonnie

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