The Employee Engagement Blog

The Employee Engagement Blog

Uncovering The Hidden Powers of Peer Recognition

Posted by Stephen Spiegel on Dec 20, 2017 9:00:00 AM

We know how important employee recognition is coming from the boss, but how does it stack up coming from a peer?

While it’s important for managers and the Human Resources department to be on the lookout for up and coming talent within an organization, it isn’t the only way to identify potential leaders within your ranks. Peer recognition is now being touted as one of the best ways for top performers to gain a spot in the limelight. An article from Harvard Business Review put the magnifying glass on the correlation between peer recognition and unidentified leadership qualities. What they found buried in the peer recognition data is that employees who received high volumes of positive recognition from their peers are often the most collaborative players on the team: a trait highly associated with effective leadership.

So how exactly does peer recognition point to top-level collaborative skills? It shouldn’t come as any surprise, but the employees who received more recognition from their peers are also the employees who communication often with their peers. These highly praised employees were shown to be “communication hubs” within their respective companies. Communication between various departments flowed through these specific employees. This was made evident by the collective number of internal interactions experienced by these well-regarded employees.

Appreciation Creates a Culture of Camaraderie

As stated by renowned psychologist, William James, “The deepest human need is the need for appreciation.” At our cores, we all look to fulfill this need for appreciation in one way or another. Some find this gratitude by volunteering their time, while others look to the workplace to fill this desire. Within an organization, appreciation does not always come fro the top-down. Sometimes it comes flows laterally from peer-to-peer. When this happens, the cultural effect can be unbelievably positive.

When a colleague acknowledges the work and efforts of a fellow team member, a mutual exchange of appreciation occurs. The employee on the receiving end of the praise is, of course, filled with good feelings about their personal performance. This in turn makes them want to continue performing at a similar level in order to replicate that feeling of appreciation, increasing their level of engagement substantially. Fortunately, the benefits of peer-to-peer recognition don’t stop there. That same employee on the receiving end of the appreciation is now more likely to be gratuitous with their recognition of other teammates. This “appreciation cycle” continues again and again to form a truly collaborative culture throughout the organization.

Recognition Breeds Engagement Among Peers

Once the pathways of peer recognition are opened, feelings of shared responsibility and dependability among employees flows into the company as well. Opening up peer recognition does far more than allow one colleague to pat another on the back for a job well done. It opens up a line of professional communication – the hidden key to employee engagement – that is often ignored within the workplace.

Receiving feedback from a peer is a powerful way for an employee to fully connect with how their work affects others within the organization. For example, one staff member may find out that the market research they conducted gave the sales team just the information they needed to create a winning new sales strategy. This level of feedback allows that researcher and the entire research department to become fully aware of how their work can impact the success of their peers. As these connections are formed, employees often find themselves more engaged in their work in response to this newfound organizational awareness.

Topics: employee recognition, employee engagement, peer recognition

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