Professional Recognition: Why Do I Seek Approval At Work?

Last updated by Katie M.

When I was still a student doing an internship, I will always remember something my manager told me: “At work, you don’t need your boss’s recognition. As long as they pay you, it means you’re doing your job well, and you don’t need anything else.” At the time, this sentence made complete sense to me. Several years later, I’ve experienced a boss who paid me but who also spent all day humiliating me, putting me down and yelling at me… I understood that a salary wasn’t enough. Professional recognition is an essential part of life and well-being at work.

Professional Recognition: Why Do I Seek Approval At Work?

What is professional recognition?

For an employee, professional recognition is an essential part of our well-being and success at work. Indeed, an employee who gets involved, makes an effort and does their job well needs feedback: compliments, raises, bonuses, promotions…

➡ Recognition enables the employee to realize in concrete terms that their investment, contribution and results are considered, recognized and valued. This is largely what gives meaning to their role.

Why is approval so important?

Well, for one thing, because it’s good for your mental health. Indeed, what could be better than feeling valued? Professional recognition boosts self-confidence, keeps you motivated and makes you want to excel. It’s therefore a win-win attitude for both employees and managers. Recognition is therefore much more vital than you might think: employees who don’t feel recognized are 4 times more likely to experience psychological problems during their careers.

>>> You may be interested in this article: Why working from home is more tiring than in the office

Employees and managers alike therefore shouldn’t neglect professional recognition. Complimenting, helping and recognizing each other between colleagues is also very important. It helps to maintain a positive working atmosphere and creates an environment conducive to creativity, motivation, mutual support, autonomy and risk-taking, in which everyone feels confident, liberated and in their place.

How do you express your recognition?

As we’ve seen, professional recognition is vital in the fight against suffering at work. As a manager or a boss, it’s out of the question to think that employees are just children eager for compliments. Professional recognition is a necessary kindness, it makes management human and gives the employee a feeling of belonging to a group (essential for human beings) and keeps them motivated to do their job well. There’s therefore no reason to deprive ourselves of this, especially as bosses also need this professional recognition… which will never come if there is an indifferent or even tense atmosphere.

There are 4 forms of recognition:

  • 1. Existential recognition: here, we’re interested in the individual as a person, not as an employee. This recognition corresponds to the need we have to exist as a human.

How do we do this? Say hello, know your employees’ names, take an interest in the person, ask them about their passions and hobbies, etc.

  • 2. Recognition of work performance: this refers to everything related to the way the employee performs their job, as well as their skills, professional qualities and behavior.

How do we do this? Congratulate them for speaking up in a meeting, note a good idea, thank them for a good job and a constant level of quality.

  • 3. Recognition of investment in the job: this is about the employee’s participation and contribution, independent of the results obtained.

How do we do this? Give a bonus for the work and efforts made, accept or anticipate a request (training, equipment, hours, etc.), offer a reward in kind.

  • 4. Recognition of results: the focus here is on the results obtained, the performance, the achievement of potential goals.

How do we do this? Increase the salary, give a bonus, offer a reward in kind, congratulate, give recognition to a third person or the superior.

Why don’t I get the recognition I deserve?

Not getting recognition from your boss doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not satisfied with your work. But why don’t they tell you that?

  • They don’t have the time or are under pressure from their own superiors and focus mainly on your mistakes.
  • They don’t want to leave traces. Times are hard and if your company has to fire you some day, some managers are afraid of leaving evidence that could be turned against them.
  • They see your salary as professional recognition. As my internship tutor told me, there’s no need to congratulate someone who is being paid for a job well done.
  • They think professional recognition is a whim of an immature employee.
  • They manage by authority, and professional recognition would demean them. If this sounds like you, it’s no wonder that millennials are unhappy at work!

How do you fight against the lack of recognition?

It’s an unpleasant feeling to do your job well, to make an effort, to bend over backwards and still get the impression that it all goes unnoticed. Little by little, you no longer enjoy doing your job, your motivation goes out the window and frustration takes over. However, you can do something about it!

1. Bring into question the place of work in your life

Do a little analysis and ask yourself whether your work is taking up too much space in your life. After all, if your efforts aren’t recognized, why not ease off a bit or put your personal life first, for example.

2. Recognize yourself

Before getting professional recognition from your manager, recognize yourself. A job well done should bring you personal satisfaction. Too often we remember our school days when we chased good grades. If we don’t get recognition from our superiors, let’s appreciate the efforts we’ve made ourselves.

3. Share

Communication is vital in all areas of life. At work, create a climate conducive to sharing. Say when you start an assignment and when you’ve finished it. You don’t need to self-glorify yourself, but just say you got the results you wanted, or ask for feedback on an ongoing job, share the credit with those who helped you. Try to instill a healthy and calm working atmosphere.  

4. Congratulate your colleagues

I firmly believe that positivity attracts positivity and that being nice at work can pay off. Never hesitate to compliment, congratulate or praise your colleagues. You can be sure that they will end up doing the same thing. And if they don’t, too bad, the self-praise will only be more acceptable!

If despite this, you’re still unhappy at work, do some soul-searching and ask yourself whether you should envisage a career change. In any case, a career coach may be an excellent solution to give your career a new impetus.

Editor’s note: When recognition doesn’t come...

The need for recognition is a normal one, but beware, it mustn’t become an obsession and shouldn’t lead you to change your values or opinions just to be recognized by your superiors. Finally, sometimes recognition doesn’t come, which can be a cause of great suffering, depression or breakdown.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!


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