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“Why do I only hear from management when I do something wrong?”

01 Jun, 2020 Employee recognition

This article was originally published in 2015 and has been completely updated in 2020.

I’m a great admirer of Susan Scott and highly recommend her book, Fierce Conversations as it contains invaluable advice about dealing with people. Scott is former head of training consultancy, Fierce Inc., and her trainers found that one of the most common employee complaints was lack of acknowledgment for good work. This article was by one of the Fierce master facilitators, Jennifer Brewer.

“They never notice anything I do well,” or “I only hear from management when I do something wrong.” It’s not uncommon to find a culture where people are holding their breath, bracing themselves against the next time they’ll be criticized for a mistake.

So, why is acknowledgment rarely consciously and consistently given? Here are some common responses:

  • “They already know – I shouldn’t have to tell them.”
  • “Pay is acknowledgment enough.”
  • “Too much acknowledgment slows down production – it takes too much time.”
  • “I’m not comfortable giving acknowledgment, and some people seem genuinely uncomfortable receiving compliments.”
  • “They’ll think I’m fishing for a reciprocal comment.”
  • “I don’t want to get too personal, want to keep this relationship professional.”

You can read the full article in a special Kindle collection of 13 top articles on employee recognition for only $11.99 including tax. Click here to buy.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash.

About the author Kim Harrison

Kim Harrison loves sharing actionable ideas and information about professional communication and business management. He has wide experience as a corporate affairs manager, consultant, author, lecturer, and CEO of a non-profit organization. Kim is a Fellow and former national board member of the Public Relations Institute of Australia, and he ran his State’s professional development program for 7 years, helping many practitioners to strengthen their communication skills. People from 115 countries benefit from the practical knowledge shared in his monthly newsletter and in the eBooks available from

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