Six Common Excuses Managers Use for Not Recognizing Their Team

August 28, 2017 Kleon Van

As more studies are made on employee behavior, it’s becoming clear that employees appreciate recognition for a job well done.  A well-designed employee recognition program creates a work culture where employees are more willing to continue the good work for your organization. That being said, there is a puzzling lack of recognition between managers and their employees. Why is there a divide? How do you get department managers to buy into employee recognition again?

According to Dr. Bob Nelson’s doctorate study, there are six excuses that low-use managers tend to have:

  1. "I’m not sure what’s the best way to recognize my employees."
  2. “I feel that recognition isn’t an important part of my job.”

  3. “I don’t have enough time to recognize my employees.”

  4. “I’m afraid I’ll forget someone when giving out recognition.”

  5. “Employees didn’t value recognition I have previously given.”

  6. “My organization doesn’t support or help us recognize our employees.”

In this blog post, we’ll look at tactics to counter each these excuses.


1) I’m not sure what’s the best way to recognize my employees.

Most low-use managers are unaware of how to successfully use an employee recognition program. Training is critical, as it will instruct them on how what situations are ideal for recognition and how to properly recognize someone. It’s key for them to see the value in recognition, or else they won’t buy in and focus on it.

2) I feel that recognition isn’t an important part of my job.

While it might be true that employee recognition may not be a part of a manager’s job roles, it plays a vital role in helping out both their department and organization. As employee recognition facilitates good work, organizations may find it in their best interests to encourage employee recognition as the main part of their strategy. When employee recognition strategies are built around organizational goals, they become an integral part of everyone’s goals. Recognition can’t be something that’s just announced and forgotten later.

3) I don’t have enough time to recognize my employees.

Recognition may seem like it takes a long time to execute, but the key is to keep it simple and authentic. Dr. Nelson noted that in his study, the high-use manager methods for recognition were very quick and easy. Things like a quick message or written note can go a long way to helping employee engagement. Lack of time may seem like a good reason to skip recognizing an employee for good work, but there are quick methods that take little time at all, so there’s no excuse.

4) I’m afraid I’ll forget someone when giving out recognition.

It’s normal to be hesitant about doling out recognition if you don’t want to leave anyone out. However, if you think about it in terms of recognizing everyone who deserves it, it’ll alleviate that concern. If your employee recognition is tied to company goals, it will be easy to see who is in line for positive feedback.

5) Employees didn’t value recognition I have previously given.

Don’t get stuck on what didn’t work before, focus on what has worked and what has the most value for your employees. One method is to gather your employees and ask them about potential rewards and motivators. When they have a say in decisions that affect their job, employees’ commitment to the job will likely increase.

6) My organization doesn’t support or help us recognize our employees.

Recognition doesn’t have to have organizational support to be successful, but being backed by higher-ups can expedite commitment from managers. The backing can also make materials, training, and programs more readily available. If for some odd reason your employer doesn’t believe in recognition, you can apply a lot of the techniques listed above and still come out successful. Be your company’s recognition advocate/expert/specialist and bring it up with management. 


Evidence of the importance of employee recognition is abundant. In a study performed by JetBlue, they found that “for every 10% increase in people reporting being recognized, JetBlue saw a 3% increase in retention and a 2% increase in engagement.” In a survey performed by Gallup, the most memorable recognition comes most often from an employee’s manager. That being said, there are managers that do not make an effort to recognize their best and brightest. Recognition doesn’t have to be extravagant, as the most effective methods are authentic and simple. While not entirely needed for effective recognition, organizational backing like training, programs, and materials can help managers commit to their recognition efforts. Aligning recognition goals to organizational goals can help it stick as well.


What are you doing to increase your employee recognition efforts?



About the Author

Kleon Van

Kleon Van is a Marketing Team Lead at Perks Worldwide.

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