Recognizing your employees increases the likelihood that they will do good work and will want to continue to work for you. For these reasons alone, you'd think the use of recognition would be standard operating procedure in today's organizations. But it's not.

Here are the six leading excuses for not using recognition:

  • I'm unsure how best to recognize my employees

    Managers who consider giving recognition to be a difficult task need training, to be provided with individual feedback, for example, or to be shown positive examples and techniques that they can use whatever their time and resource constraints.

  • I don't have the time

    Some of the most effective ways of saying thank you (personal or written praise, public recognition, positive voicemail or e-mail messages, etc.) require very little time to initiate and accomplish.

  • I'm afraid I might leave out somebody

    Just remember, if at any time you leave someone deserving out, it is perfectly acceptable to simply apologize and make amends.

  • Employees haven't valued past recognition

    Instead of being put off by what might not have worked in the past, managers should make a fresh start and find out what forms of recognition their employees would value most. By involving employees in decisions that affect their own motivation, managers increase the employees' commitment and buy-in, as well as the likelihood of success.

  • My organization is no help

    Recognition efforts can flourish even in the absence of formal organizational support. Sometimes, asking top management to use recognition shows that you're serious about the activity and can start the ball rolling throughout your company.

Bob Nelson, PhD, is president of Nelson Motivation Inc. in San Diego; best-selling author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees, The 1001 Rewards & Recognition Fieldbook, and Managing For Dummies; and a frequent presenter to management groups, conferences and associations. For more information, visit, or send an e-mail to Bob at