You Shouldn’t Have to Walk On Water to Get Recognition

My husband, Arthur, photographed me when we were on vacation in Japan this past April. I saw a group of students walking across a garden pond on stepping stones. It reminded me of an important piece of recognition I received. I knew I had to have a picture.

Last week The Competitive Edge Report spoke of the extraordinary level of discouragement I hear in people. Employees report getting little credit, few thank you(s) or acknowledgements from their bosses. Today I want to share with you how a small positive action went a long way and lasted a very long time.

When I joined Liz Claiborne we were in the process of starting a new division. Ten weeks after my start date we were scheduled to launch the retail division. I worked a zillion hours interviewing no less than ten people a day, while training new hires, and getting the facility opened. This was a big event in the industry and all eyes, corporate and the rest of the retail community, were on us. I was part of a great 3 person top management team. My charge was the people — managers, staff and, of course, customers.

The week after the successful opening our boss, the president of the division, called “the team of three” into his office. “I have never been more proud of any group of people. You did the impossible and made it look easy. We took in a lot of bucks, the place looks great and we have a terrific staff. Thank you”. We did not walk out of his office, we floated. The accolades made it possible for us to turn around the next week and start all over again with Store 2, and on to 3, then 4 and so on… across the country. No money, no flowers, no lunches, dinners, medals or certificates but genuine gratitude with specific examples that we could carry with us.

At the three month review, NOTE: I had worked with other organizations for years and never even gotten an annual review (“what do you need the evaluation for we gave you money and the promotion?”) and now I was having a sit-down with my boss who actually had taken the time to write his thoughts on paper. We went over each category. He had praise and specific suggestions. In the final “comments” box he wrote “when it comes to anything to do with people she walks on water, OK needs a few rocks.” I laughed when he said it. “No I mean it” he replied. He stated it, wrote it and I never forgot it. What did it take? – time, effort, a little of each, but what was most important was that my supervisor knew how to lead and manage with support and recognition. Thanks Matt.

So how can we learn from Matt?

  1. He recognized people immediately and was brief and positive with his comments.
  2. Gave specific examples. I was never thrilled when someone would say to me “Good job”; too general and glib for my taste.
  3. He praised publicly. The team got recognition as did each contributor in front of everyone.
  4. Looked for an opportunity to write down praise in the form of an appraisal, a note or e-mail, a group meeting. He gave the person something to hold on to.
  5. Made it memorable. (I can still see myself standing on water with some rocks).
  6. Matt was the kind of leader who could share the pond and allowed you to sink for the experience but never let you drown.
  7. If you think you don’t have time to praise and recognize or when people tell you it’s “dumb”, “juvenile” or “unnecessary” calculate how long, and how much, it would have cost Matt to pull together another “Team of Three.”

Jane Cranston is an executive coach, career coach and “The Job Search Expert” based in New York City. She shares with success driven executives and professionals techniques, skills and goal setting strategies that advance their careers, increase people management skills and assists them in career change or job search. Receive Jane’s free "Competitive Edge Report" and the free audio download “Creating a Career Strategy” by visiting

About the Author

Jane Cranston - Executive Coach NY (New York)Executive and career coach, “The Job Search Expert,” Jane Cranston understands the challenges and opportunities in the workplace. She integrates years of experience as an accomplished senior executive with global brand name companies, with the lessons learned from opening three successful businesses, and then applies her education and coach training. This sophisticated mix affords her clients her unique perspective, business sensibility, and entrepreneurial spirit.

Jane is the founder and Managing Director of ExecutiveCoachNY, an executive and career coaching business based in New York City with clients nationwide. She coaches success-driven executives and managers to develop a career strategy that accelerates advancement, increases compensation, enhances people-management skills as well as gets the competitive edge in all business activities.

Coaching with Jane is dynamic, structured, forward-focused as well as fun and inspirational. Working with clients in fields such as finance, technology, media and entertainment, real estate, and the law, she assists them in recognizing and achieving their full potential at work and in their personal lives.

Clients claim coaching with Jane has “changed my career focus,” “helped me better understand how to motivate my staff,” “given me ideas that have increased my income by $100,000s,” and “made me realize what is my part and what isn’t,” and claim coaching is “the best thing you could do for yourself.”

Jane’s soon to be published “Great Job Tough Times” is a step-by-step job search system designed to assist managers and executives looking for employment, or contemplating leaving their current positions, with their resume writing, interviewing skills, networking techniques, and negotiating need to get the right job fast.

Jane Cranston is frequently seen on CNN’s “Your Money” and quoted in nationally syndicated newspapers, magazines, as well as Internet article sites and virtual programs. She authors the free, twice monthly, “Competitive Edge Report.” Learn more on her website


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