Ever move so fast as a part of a startup or high-growth company that you forget to look up? Yep, us too. But when you forget to look up, or you're moving full-steam ahead, it's easy to ignore one of the things that matters most: your people. Thank you

Leaders are often the worst culprits. They've got so much invested in success they're laser-focused on the finish line instead of who's in the pit changing the tires at warp speed. It's not a fault per se. At startups, employees don't often expect grand recognition -- they're used to moving so fast, their value often comes from the end result: shipping code, launching product or landing a great, new customer or client.  And at high-growth companies, as numbers rise, so does anonymity. But in reality, it matters. Typically only about half of all employees say they receive recognition for doing good work. Do you? And more importantly, are you a giver?

Here's a leadership test--are you good at recognition? 

1) Is thank you in your vocabulary?

Do an email search of your inbox for the words "thank you" and look for patterns. Are you only thanking clients or partners? When was the last time you sent an email with that subject line, or only for the purpose of thanking an employee? Sure, you may assume your employees know you appreciate them. But they need to hear it from you.

2) Have you ever bought a gift for someone on your team?

Every once in awhile, when someone goes out of their way for you, it's worth tangible recognition. It doesn't have to be a Ferrari, but the fact that you took the time to buy something to thank someone is a big deal. Maybe they covered for you while you were on vacation. Or took on an extra project or solved a client problem in the wee hours of the morning. Whatever it is, thank them with something specific that's catered to them. An Amazon gift card is nice, but if you know I love yoga, why not a gift certificate for a free class or two? If you don't know, it's time to get to know your employees.

3) Do you know who is your company is valued by your peers?

Managers are often dead wrong about employee performance. They're either not paying enough attention, documenting performance or have an accurate understanding of how a project really got done. Peer recognition can be a great way to supplement regular feedback so giving peers a public forum to recognize each other not only adds value to the employee but gives leaders insight into where the real talent value is.

4) Do you have a platform to track recognition?

Do you have a formal platform?  An employee recognition platform on steroids, YouEarnedIt allows employees to reward each other points providing public recognition and personal redemption based on a company's redemption options. Companies can decide what goes in the rewards catalog--anything from Apple gift cards to KitchenAid mixers to charitable donations. Company leaders then have insight into who's doing good. A similar tool called Bonus.ly offers a cash option too.  You also can consider tracking recognition and how happy employees are through a tool like TinyPulse, perfect for startups and high-growth companies.

How'd you do? If you answered no almost all of these, it's time to get moving.

Recognition is a fine line--you don't want to do it all the time, every minute of every day. But you do need to make it a regular habit--especially if you're moving fast. Those workers who are changing tires in 30 seconds? They're probably working harder that you and really deserve a thank you.

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exaqueo is a human resources consultancy that helps startups and high-growth companies build their cultures, employer brands and talent strategies. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you build a workforce that’s aligned with your company culture and develop an employer brand that will allow your business to grow in the right way.

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