Group Recognition Really Works


By Steven Green

Praise and recognition are powerful motivators, outstripping cash in their effectiveness. Talk may not be as cheap as we’ve been told it is.

Now, thanks to a column by David Brooks, it seems that we have solid evidence that the best way to motivate individual performance is…not to reward the individual.

Rather, it seems that when we reward the group as a whole then individuals within the group are more motivated to perform. The study cited by Brooks shows that gain-sharing strategies and providing incentives to the whole workgroup have a positive influence on individual productivity, particularly on complex difficult-to-observe tasks.

Can Group Recognition Really Work?
This got me thinking about ways that Social software can contribute to a positive group incentive outcome and thereby boost individual performance. Sending a “job well done” note to an entire team is a great way to let all the members know that you are watching them and that what they are doing actually matters.

Brooks shares another study which adds some valuable perspective. Joachim Huffmeier and Guido Hertel studied Olympic relay swimmers and discovered that when individuals felt they were indispensable to the group their performance exceeded expectations. It seems that the more we can do to help people feel that their work matters, the better they will perform.

Better Than a Group Hug
Social software can go a long way toward group motivation. You can not only raise the visibility of effective groups within your organization, but you can also highlight the individuals within those groups.

When someone knows that their job performance matters, not just to them but to the entire group, they not only feel compelled to perform at a higher level but they feel that their job has become more meaningful in the process.

While it seems counter-intuitive to “high five” the entire team in order to boost individual performance, it brings out a very important fact. Each of is, after all, a social creature.

Steven Green is the founder of PollStream Inc., – a leading provider of interactive engagement and community building solutions. Steven built PollStream with the intention of helping global companies to engage their customers and employees in measurable and meaningful two-way dialogue. As a result he has become a valuable resource to key decision makers as they explore the growing field of online dialogue and social media. With an impressive roster of clients, such as The US Navy, TD Bank, GE Capital, and Best Buy, Steven continues to grow PollStream’s reputation as an innovator of online solutions designed to segment, engage and inform. He has a BA from McGill University in Montreal and a Social Work degree from York University in Toronto.

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