Make a Difference: The 80/20/80 Rule on Recognition and Performance

Talent Plus Talent Plus

October 16, 2017 Blog Engagement

Are recognition and appreciation embedded into your organization’s culture?

Before you answer, here’s something you should know:

  • 80% of senior leaders think their employees are being recognized at least monthly.
  • But only about 20% of individual contributors say they actually receive recognition that often.


And that’s not all. We promised an 80/20/80 Rule. Here’s the other 80 (from that same source):

  • 80% of people say they would work harder for a more appreciative manager

How much harder? One study suggests people would work as much as 50% harder for that more appreciative manager.

What would happen if the people you manage worked 50% harder?

So there’s your 80/20/80 Rule. The 20 signals a huge disconnect. And if leaders can close the loop on that disconnect by actually delivering the kind of recognition they think they are, it can drive increased performance, productivity and profitability.

THAT’S managing to make a difference!

Everyone knows what recognition and appreciation look like and feel like. But are you intentional enough about delivering it? We’ve got some ideas for you. Listen to the podcast (or get the book) and learn more about:

  • Even more research around gratitude at work (you might be surprised at just how unlikely people are to thank their coworkers)
  • What it means to shape a culture of recognition and appreciation
  • The Positive to Negative Ratio and how to find the sweet spot as a manager
  • Specific ways (that won’t cost you a dime) to recognize and appreciate people – plus a few that will cost more but can yield significant returns
  • How to address this attitude from naysayers: All this focus on appreciation and recognition is just another example of millennials who think they need a trophy for showing up to work.”

On all our podcasts and blog posts, you have an opportunity to talk back to us through comments and emails. We hope to hear from you! Until next time, manage to make a difference every day!

+ Larry Sternberg, J.D. and Kim Turnage, Ph.D.


This post highlights Chapter 51 from Managing to Make a Difference (Wiley), a handbook for hitting the sweet spot of middle management. Next up: Emotionally Rehire People. Connect with Kim Turnage and Larry Sternberg on LinkedIn to see their latest updates.

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