“Suffering From Too Much Recognition?” A Tale of Two Bosses

30 Jan

A conversation I had with a former boss came to mind today. The thought of offering praise to an employee, including yours truly, was not in his “management style”.  There were certainly lots of good things to celebrate– new customers, growing revenues, a sound bottom line. He thought that people “doing their job was no reason to get all excited, plus if you start praising people it will just go to their heads”– thus the dearth of praise, even when things were going well.

Another former boss, Dr. Donald O. Clifton, used to ask audiences a question when it came to this topic of praise: “If any of you out there are suffering from too much recognition, please raise your hand?” Never was a hand shown.

In fact, if we ever error regarding recognition, it is too little and without sincerity. The chances that we would “over-praise” someone are slim to none. In my case, the first boss never got the best out of me, and I would have walked through fire to please Don Clifton if he would have asked– have you felt this difference in your life? Our studies of outstanding workplaces indicates this is a critical driver of employee engagement.


  • What can we do to dispel the myth that we should worry about “over-praising” our associates?
  • Can we do a better job of celebrating the successes of our associates, particularly in these difficult times?
  • How we can we help all our leaders be more effective at recognizing their staff in a meaningful way?

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