Solution Saturday: Feeling Unrecognized
This note arrived this morning.
“I have achieved a lot over the years. Why hasn’t anyone recognized me?”
Lack of recognition and appreciation runs rampant in many organizations. The only time you’re noticed is when you fall short.
Leaders are criticized when things go wrong and forgotten when they go right.
You spend hours preparing for a tough conversation that goes well. Who knows? Team interactions are smooth and productive. Successful teamwork is no accident.
The better a leader performs the less essential it seems they are.
The desire to feel appreciated and respected is normal. When you serve those who are able to show recognition, it’s healthy for them to extend it.
The better you do, the less you’re appreciated and the more you’re expected to do next time.
I work with a team of unappreciated people. When things go right, they’re invisible. When things go wrong, they’re responsible.
Others don’t know:
- How much you care.
- How hard you work.
- How preparation and expertise make things run smoothly.
5 ways to gain recognition:
- Serve for the joy of serving. Don’t worry about recognition.
- Meet a pressing need. Day-to-day work is often unrecognized.
- Serve in ways that matter to others. Recognition is an expression of someone else’s values.
- Enjoy recognition. Don’t demand it. Demanding recognition is a sure way to lose it.
- Extend respect and give recognition to others.
3 ways to receive recognition:
- Tell people how it feels when they show you respect. If it feels good, say it. Don’t say, “No big deal,” if it feels like a big deal.
- Show gratitude to others when you’re recognized. Great leaders say, “I work with great people,” when they’re recognized.
- Don’t talk about all the work you did. Just be thankful.
What might leaders do when they feel under-appreciated?
Thanks for this post. I have been frustrated by the lack of recognition in the past. What’s worse is when recognition is given and you are left out. A simple “Thank you!” Can go a long way to improve morale and motivation in any team.
Thanks Jay. I appreciate your candor and transparency. I had a top manager tell me that a simple pat on the back means so much to him. It’s easy to forget this.
Yes it’s real fact, as realized by me personally being a team leader in a middle management post. Sometimes I try to just ignore and doing my duty as you said. Thanks for sharing the great post.
Thanks Share. In the end, we need to find our sense of satisfaction from within. But, that’s much easier said than done.
Yes it’s difficult. Thanks Dan for replying. Will await for your next post
I forget the source of the quote, and I may not be getting it right, but I love the phrase “it’s not your job to love me, that’s my job”.
I’m not saying external recognition isn’t important. A good leader and a healthy workplace would provide it. But the truest recognition starts with each of us recognizing we did well. When you can give yourself that, the need for external recognition isn’t nearly as important. I know when I’m starving for recognition it’s a reminder to me to be kinder to myself, to embrace the gifts I have and to acknowledge the contribution I make.
Thanks Alf. Your comment is so powerful. “be kinder to myself…” Wow!
I feel better when I’m recognized. But, in the end, we do what we do because of who we are. I find that others can’t appreciate my work like I can. 🙂
How about this addition?
4 ways receive recognition:
4. Maybe it’s more a good idea with efforts indicating promise; but further effort, further self-assessment, further Consideration is appropriate for recognition.
Thanks John. I always respect your additions and insights! When I combine your idea of further self-assessment with Alf’s idea of be kinder, I think I see a path forward. It’s too easy for self-assessment to become self-condemnation.
That’s particularly sad and final – self-condemnation. Condemnation is rarely appropriate, self-condemnation never. If your self-assessment suggests improvement is needed, focus on that! As Alf wrote and you noted, be kinder to yourself!!!
Twenty years ago, the mantra of my employer was “no news is good news”. Today, if you want to retain and develop high performers, specific recognition of what they do well and what they are appreciated for is a must. The demand for talent is higher than ever, and when you forget to recognize high performers, you are hurting your organization.
Thanks Ann. Yes, the “no news is good news” isn’t very encouraging. It can be difficult for us older folks to appreciate the need others feel for recognition. We do what needs to be done because it needs to be done.
It’s a global pandemic mean to say how to stop giving increments directly proportionate to ungrateful leadership as per your blog , I am not counting your suggestions.
Dan, do you know what was the reason of Roman empire failure?
Or fall of Nokia
Or success reason of ISIS
Or leadership success ratio of Donald trump.
These are the reasons or big reasons why big organisations fail or what you have quoted in your blog.
When credibility of professionaly loyal emplyees comes under dark cloud though they are doing theie job with full honesty , then all such bookish words like EQ IQ FEQ PESQ failed badly , reasons thinkers or selfless loyal thinkers are being used by ungrateful leaders momentarily and later pushed these guys in corner by loyal sycophants of certain leaders (fools). From here fall of big organisation starts like Nokia or many more.
Leadership with ignorance and deep association of sycophants help in sinking big ships.
Alone in USA , forthcoming years will be very tough because such fundamental already crept in dna of organisations next will be Google.
Recognition to unsung heroes who are real reasons of big success of big organisations because of unnoticed contribution Later will be the part of dusty success.
Don’t love your company, love your job because you never know when sycophants start loving you or your company stop loving you.
Don’t demand from beggars. They are kins of mentally bankrupt people.
Recognition, fame , identity are words of fools dictionary but your did work must not be ignored by you.
Even yesterday you did a exercise like write a comment and get a book of master leadership. , do you need any recognition.
Why promoting such books or thoughts which needs crutches or poor authors looking for somebody shoulders.
Fire doesn’t need any recognition, speak itself.
Remain focused , right people will find you automatically.
Say no to fame begging , strictly
Thanks Crazy. “Don’t demand from beggars.” Makes me think about how it’s difficult for needy leaders to recognize others. Very powerful idea.
You are correct in observing that I don’t need recognition for what I do. I do it because I love it. However, when it comes, it feels good. I’ll add, that recognition also extends our influence.
Please apply. Still I have a lot of respect for you. If I could come USA, I will see you.
In my organisation because of my truthfulness and fiery blogs , banned me fully.
Don’t promote beggars associates with best ones or have tea with guys who are better then you.
Thanks for your response. Your contribution on social front acknowledged and identified by me.
I saw this post and on the surface the altruistic intent is admirable. Unfortunately in many work environments there’s become a predatory mindset on ladder climbers. If you don’t recognize that, recognize your strength on the ladder, improve skills to climb the ladder, otherwise you will continually be kicked off the ladder, or at a minimum consistently plunge back a rung or two-call it the Alpha Dog syndrome for there will always be someone wanting to lift their leg on your fire hydrant
As to Desire, evaluate and recognize your audience, both management and peers. You might be in an environment of distrust. If so, do not assume that those “5 ways to gain recognition” will be attained via just hard work
As to “receiving recognition”, temper #3 by discussing the process, the due diligence of persistence and the enthusiasm it all drew in seeing a successful conclusion. That is how you promote yourself, within the work. If you just hand off the conclusion/the results, they’ll make their own assumptions, and/or steal your credit/thunder
As to Expectations in general, that is the downfall of so many, for expectations have you already anticipating a conclusion or desire(s). If you are anticipating, Anticipation must have a plan so that Expectation creates a vision; a Vision creates a plan; a Plan promotes success; yours and the entity you’re working on/with. Expectations without those elements create the failures for most, for it becomes a “boohoo” of emotional failure; but the real failure is in the lack of due diligence to all elements of the process
Gaining and receiving Recognition also must be tempered by evaluation of your work environment. In looking at the process, don’t view it altruistically combine it with your goals and visions. If you’re a wall-flower and cower at subtle self-promotion you’ve earned the results; that’s different than arrogance of entitlement
In business today, ethics and core principles surrounding a moral conduct must not be compromised, even though the predatory environment has misplaced them in many instances. It can and must start with you. You’ll be recognized for that; and then those “expectations” actually can turn to goals and successes.
Thanks Don. It’s so great that your took the ideas in this post to a specific situation.
In particular the idea of self-promotion has a place. If no one knows about your work, your work doesn’t matter. (From an organizational point of view.) Being grateful, even as you share your successes is one key to putting your best foot forward.
Once again, I’m so thankful you brought your insights to this conversation.
When I first saw the question, I was tempted to say, just do your work and don’t worry. The situation you are in has an impact on your approach.
I still believe that it’s best to do what we do because we love it. But you remind us that there’s more to this topic.
So spot on here, if you do the work for recognition you are failing. I work for the satisfaction of what I give back to my community. When a member of the public says thank you I can draw on that for months knowing I am doing what needs done. As a leader I make sure those who are doing their job right know that their work matters. Its nice to be recognized but if just doing the job right is not enough to keep you engaged you may be in the wrong job.
Thanks Walt. Nicely stated. There is an energizing effect to recognition. But, working FOR recognition always disappoints.
Great post Dan, and the discussion that followes,. I want to highlight what you say here: “Tell people how it feels when they show you respect. If it feels good, say it. Don’t say, “No big deal,” if it feels like a big deal” We “train” people how to treat us and many people have a hard time receiving compliments–so their response tells the giver to not worry about it. The other thing is we still like to pretend that “We’re all adults here” so we don’t need to be recognized and to be given consistent positive feedback. And the truth is we don’t Need it to survive, to do adequate work. But we do in order to thrive.
Thanks Alan. I’m with you. The conversation is useful, enlightening, and important.
When a leader tells me they feel unappreciated, I ask them what they do when they are recognized… What are you doing to let others know you enjoy recognition? They often fall into the category of brushing it off. As you say, they are training people who to treat them.
We all like praise and appreciation, but many times people expect praise just for doing what’s expected of them! It is your job so do your best always and move on! Praise comes in many forms we just have to reap the rewards when they show up. I consider serving people a reward everyday, solving their needs and seeing them smile and often times thank you comes out, but if it doesn’t I don’t expect it! It’s our journey we chose the path!
If you feel that vulnerable it won’t be easier when the quillotine comes down. I’d suggest develop some self respect for your talents and move forward or move on. The word “can’t” if you chose to use it, says you haven’t looked in-depth at your resumes of talent. Currently it sounds like your a hostage
Think better of yourself. You’ll do better for yourself, for you
Nicely said Tim. I’ve been finding that we tend to see what we look for.
I work in an environment where we all expect to be laid off and replaced with offshore people, so it has become a quiet, hope nobody notices me, don’t make waves zone of dispair. It is far worse than the no news is good news environment.
Thanks for the post; it confirms my decision to look for work I can enjoy doing elsewhere. Time to leave the “crab pot.”
Patrick, life is one day at a time, you will find work and prosper! I started over again at 40, found work from the bottom and climbed the ladder again, that’s live! The threats exist everywhere we just have to chose our path and move on! Best of luck with your endeavors! Believe in yourself first, and make a new path! 🙂
Thanks Patrick. Your comment touches my heart. You have my best for the journey ahead.
Great article; and very good comments.
One caveat I might add is that beware of an organization where others (peers or higher-ups) may take credit for the work you’ve done without attributing it correctly.
I’ve seen it happen – both to other managers and myself – and at that point, one’s reaction to the event becomes an important factor.
Thanks Tom. Your comment reminds me there is something worse than not receiving recognition. It’s worse to have it stolen.
The problem of pulling back and sabotaging our own performance comes to mind. It’s even more important to keep doing a great job when someone steals the credit. And if possible, find a new job.
I had a funny event that involved somebody stealing credit for my work. When I found out, I gave him all my materials on the work I did (and I kept a copy) and told him that he can handle any problems that came up.
About a week later there was a major production problem and he was consulted (as expected, since he claimed credit for it). He floundered for days and tried to get me to fix it, and I told him that since he took credit for it, he can fix it himself. At the end of a week, a senior manager asked me to step in (he knew it was my work) and fix the issue (which was an easy fix) and this killed this thief’s credibility in the organization.
“Vengeance is Mine, sayeth the the Lord” but sometimes you get to help!
As one who aspired to be a genuine leader, I believed in and tried to consistently practice the habit of responding to true accomplishment (and authentic incremental effort toward same) with appropriate recognition and praise. This was in contrast to my own experience as a “worker bee” when we seldom received -or expected- praise for “doing our jobs.” Not to say recognition wasn’t appreciated when sincere and deserved (hence my efforts to do better as a leader), but doing a job and doing it well were secondary to being praised for it, as per your own comments. For me, the respect of my peers (and others I respected, whatever their position on the org chart) and the satisfaction of a job well done were always more important than words of praise from people (at whatever level) who handed recognition out wholesale and may or may not have had an accurate estimation of my accomplishments and contribution to the organization. Some of the most valued recognition I received was praise not spoken to me, but rather about me to others, and that eventually got back to me unintentionally.
There is also a generational component to this need for praise, as most of the readers here will likely be aware. Keeping the “everyone gets a trophy” crowd satisfied can be hard work. In the last few years before retirement, I began to see the “compulsion to praise” in my organization reach silly levels, and as a result genuine recognition of real achievement began to get lost in the noise.
Thanks Jim. The thought that comes to mind when I read your comment is make it real and specific. When everyone is recognized, no one is recognized.
thanks for the post, i belive most of what you said not applicable to some extent of those leaders how are listening to others competitive and leaded by them.
Thanks Khalid. I appreciate you adding your comment. I always run the risk of writing things that don’t apply when I don’t know much about a situation. Cheers
“Recognition is an expression of someone else’s values.” Wow, Dan. I hadn’t thought of it that way before. It gets me to thinking about the recognition I’ve given or gotten in the past. While I serve just for the joy of serving, recognition IS awesome, even if it’s not the driving factor. I try to give recognition to others as often as I can, but I’m sure it’s an area where I can improve. Thanks for the great post!