[kcdc 2022] creating a culture of appreciation

Speaker: Ash Banaszek @ashbanaszek

For more, see theĀ table of contents


  • Interviews
  • Spotcheck with collegaues
  • DoveTail for affinity mapping

What is recognition

  • Exercise: what makes you feel appreciated. Last time and when was. For me, it was yesterday when a manager (not me) acknowledged a milestone our team made on a key project.
  • Poll to see when last felt appreciated. Most recent but some were longer than 6 months ago.
  • For some people, it is only during annual review
  • Making your employees and coworkers feel valued by you and the company
  • Be specific, descriptive and timely
  • Why are you giving it? What was the impact? Be honest.
  • Mono directional – I am recognizing you
  • Within the week is best
  • Email is ok. Doesn’t have to be formal
  • Tailor to the recipient – not everyone wants public attention

Less good examples

  • Think about how makes feel when manager has to pay for thank yous because companies don’t want to
  • HR sent note with pin for 10 years and manager signature. Ritual, not an accomplishment. Not personalized. Form letter.
  • Too late – forget
  • Where is the bar. If you are never appreciated, better than nothing.
  • Checking a box
  • Recognition is not the same as team building.
  • Don’t want to wait 6 months. Less impact the longer you wait.


  • Gift
  • Money
  • Time off
  • Face time
  • Public praise
  • Personal note
  • What is best varies by person.
  • Exercise: think about what motivates you
  • Less genuine if do same thing for everyone.


  • Be specific. Mention something did. Not just 10 years.
  • “The team did great on X. We are going out bowling to celebrate”. Better if list specific things during the event for specific people

Why helps

  • Feel happy
  • More productive when believe colleagues respect and appreciate them, gratitude from manager

What is worth recognition

  • Save time/effort
  • Make things better
  • Outside job scope
  • Stretching skill set
  • Doing job while under tough circumstances
  • New certification
  • Going to conference and presented
  • Example of learning from failure (before too late)
  • Something cool
  • Recognize for things reinforce


  • Block calendar – Ash blocks half an hour to think about gratitude, check in on mentees/managers, send out notes
  • Include in project milestones (if x is true, we will do y)
  • Put in performance goals. Makes measurable. I recognized X people.
  • Talk about it with team/leadership
  • Must be visible and supported by the top to be part of the culture. Example: if X, team has lunch with you
  • Tailor recognition – ex: gifts, meals, emails
  • Remember is it s a thank you gift
  • Vary approach for effect
  • Make it easy to give
  • Make it a habit – schedule time
  • Build reputation for gratitude. People want to work with people who appreciate them
  • Reinforce people recognizing others

Who to recognize

  • Not just managers can do
  • Teammates
  • Other work teams
  • People in roles above you
  • Contractors


  • “But that’s their job anyway; Already get paycheck, that is recognition” – think about what done that special
  • “What if people don’t think it’s fair” – not recognizing anyone because someone might be upset. Need to make it fair. Find out how doing if less visibility.
  • “My folks don’t need to coddled; don’t want to be recognized” – culture failure
  • “We already have a yearly bonuses” – not specific, descriptive or timely
  • “There’s not on my team, someone else can do it” – all working towards same goal
  • “It’s not worth my time” – well worth ROI because others more productive
  • Fear of “watering down” recognition – number vs specific recognition/scope. Needs to be equivalent in nature to what did
  • Inauthentic – can’t just want productivity gain
  • Ignoring standard practices – if everyone else recognizes anniversary, feel ignored
  • Folks feeling isolated/unseen – talk to others to find out how doing
  • Overcompensating – feels like want something when disproportionate.
  • Checking the box
  • If barrier to entry too high, people won’t do. Ex: having to find a paper form

My take

Ash asked everyone in the first two rows to wear a mask. People complied. I was impressed they got compliance. The talk was interesting. The examples were relatable and fun. The “what to consider” was helpful in getting me to reflect. I like the reinforcement of specific, descriptive and timely throughout! They said we’d be asked to talk to each other but that didn’t happen so I was wondering when that was coming. At the end, we wrote down what would have been in the brainstorming groups and shared out loud. Seemed equally effective.

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