Join my community for regular insights via email -

Recognition and Appreciation

Average reading time: 2 minutes 10 seconds.

Many of us think that recognition and appreciation are the same thing, but they are not.

And the distinction isn’t just one of semantics. It truly matters.

Especially to those of us in leadership and management positions.

I recently watched Mike Robbins’ TED Talk on the topic, which you should definitely go ahead and watch right now. Here’s my take on how he defines recognition and appreciation.

Recognition is positive feedback based on performance or results. In other words, when you produce a positive result, you get recognised. But recognition is time sensitive and finite, i.e. there is only so much recognition that can be given before it becomes meaningless or insincere.

Appreciation is about appreciating people for who they are, not just what they do. In a study at UC Berkeley, the research showed that people were 43% more effective and productive when they felt their manager valued and cared for them. This was in contrast to being just 23% percent more productive when they felt recognised for the work they did.

One of the most effective ways to show people we appreciate them is by sending hand-written notes to those we lead. An activity that takes just a couple of minutes and costs no more than a few pennies or cents.

I was talking about this practice with an Executive Team this month who lead a team of 9,000 people. Two members of the team mentioned the fact that they still had a hand-written note in their desk drawer from a former boss.

When they told the story, those people came alive. Their eyes lit up. Their energy changed.

In that moment, it was clear to me that those two people would have done anything for that leader.

Sheldon Yellen, the CEO of Belfor Holdings Inc, writes 9,200 cards to his team each year. These include thank you cards, anniversary cards, birthdays cards, even cards to the children of his employees when they are sick.

Doug Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup, wrote 30,000 cards in his ten-year tenure at the firm. By my maths that’s around 58 cards per week.

I’m not suggesting you need to send that many thank you cards. But imagine the impact if you did.

And what if you started by sending one in the next 24 hours?

Bonus Tip:

I hope this article has inspired you to start writing thank you notes to those that you lead. But inspiration doesn’t always lead to action.

If you really want to act on what I’ve shared, simply put a ten-minute weekly appointment in your calendar to prompt you to look for opportunities to show your team that you appreciate them.

If you wrote just two cards per week in that period, that would add up to 104 thank you cards per year… and what impact would that have?


Two things you can do to say thank you for this free resource

Subscribe to ”The Ben Morton Leadership Podcast“ on your preferred podcast platform to help us grow the show and bring you more fantastic interviews with senior leader

Connect with me on LinkedIn for regular leadership tips and insights. Be sure to add a personal note with the request.

Connect with Ben