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Why Recognizing Activities Matters

    I had a heartwarming experience recently that made me reflect on the importance of recognizing effort and activities, not just results. As I spent time with my precious granddaughter, we engaged in a delightful interaction. I sang a song to her, she doesn’t judge my off-key vocals, and she watched me intently as I clapped my hands together. To my surprise and delight, I noticed her lifting her chubby little arms and slowly attempting to bring her fists together. She was trying to clap! In that seemingly simple act, I realized the significance of recognizing the steps rather than solely focusing on the outcomes.

    At first glance, it may appear that nothing extraordinary was accomplished. After all, she couldn’t quite manage to clap her hands just yet. Opening her tiny hands wide enough to create that satisfying clapping sound will take time and practice as she develops control over her motor skills. However, in that little motion lies the potential for many future accomplishments. It’s the first step towards a range of movements and skills that will shape her journey—perhaps one day leading to creating beautiful art or playing a masterpiece on the piano.

    This simple moment with my granddaughter reminded me of the parallel lessons we can apply to the workplace. As managers, we must recognize and appreciate the activities and efforts of our team members, even if the desired results haven’t fully materialized. When we only focus on results, it’s easy to overlook the significance of the process, the incremental steps, and the growth that occurs along the way. By taking time to appreciate the small victories and milestones, we can build a workplace culture that celebrates progress and encourages continuous improvement.

    The Significance of Recognizing Activities

    In the business world, we love our metrics and measures, which makes it easy to overlook the process. However, by focusing solely on results, we miss recognizing activities and acknowledging the effort, dedication, and progress made by our employees. When managers take the time to appreciate the activities that contribute to the end result, they send a powerful message to their team members—they are seen, valued, and their contributions matter.

    Focusing on only results also misses out on the significant steps of how those results are achieved. When the activities are ignored, we may reward the wrong things.

    Let me share an example to illustrate this point. In my experience working in the banking industry, there was a particular year when the company decided to primarily measure success based on units, such as the number of accounts opened. Employees in busy branches with high walk-in customer traffic excelled in achieving these outcomes and were recognized as high-performing employees, while those in newer or low-traffic branches struggled to get similar results. 

    In some cases, when a high-performing employee transferred to a different location, their success rate dropped because they hadn’t learned the activities to achieve success in different environments. They did not have the skills to make calls, acquire referrals, and have meaningful conversations with customers.

    While some individuals may experience success despite their actions, as managers, we strive to ensure that employees are successful because of their actions.

    Activity Recognition in Daily Management Practices

    By understanding and appreciating the activities that lead to desired outcomes, we can guide and support our team members in developing the necessary skills and strategies for long-term success.  Here are some tips to recognize activities in your daily management practices:

    1. Observe and be present in the workplace to notice the activities and efforts of your team members. Pay attention to the small details and actions that contribute to the overall progress and success of projects or tasks.
    2. Encourage a work environment where acknowledging and recognizing activities is valued and actively promoted. Lead by example and consistently express gratitude for the efforts and activities of your team members.
    3. When providing feedback, be specific and use descriptive language to highlight the activities that stood out and how they contributed to the team’s progress. Help your team members understand the direct link between their activities and the desired outcomes or goals.
    4. Establish channels or platforms where team members can recognize and appreciate each other’s activities.
    5. Encourage team members to reflect on their own activities and progress. Assist them in setting goals that focus on the specific activities they want to improve or excel in.
    6. Ensure that credit is given to individuals for their specific contributions. Avoid generic recognition that may overshadow or dilute the efforts of individuals who have gone above and beyond.
    7. Don’t underestimate the power of celebrating small milestones and incremental progress. Recognize and applaud the efforts that lead to success, no matter how small they may seem.


    The next time we clap our hands to celebrate a result, let us remember to also recognize and applaud each activity that paves the path to achievement.

    “Success is not just about reaching the destination; it’s about appreciating and celebrating the journey that got you there. Every small activity and effort along the way adds up to something significant.”


    Ponder Points

    Do I  primarily focus on end results or do I recognize the activities that contribute to those outcomes?

    Do I provide meaningful recognition and feedback to individuals for their activities and contributions?

    How can I create a work environment that values and celebrates the efforts and progress made by my team members?

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