My son just joined the cub scouts. Since I’m a second generation Eagle Scout, I’m proud of him and excited for him as he begins his journey of learning and adventure.
During his first cub scout meeting last week, I was surprised at how eagerly he jumped into the activities of the pack since he was new to the group. It was a warm and welcoming group of boys, and the scoutmaster’s friendly presence made it an easy group to join. What caught my son’s attention the most was the chance to earn badges for achievements, and that he could have them sewn on to his new blue uniform.
Grown-ups are the same way. I’ll never forget seeing all the ‘hero bling’ of medals on the chest of the Vice Admiral who swore us in on my first day as a midshipman at Annapolis. Maybe that will be me some day. Maybe my peers will see what I’ve achieved and what I’ve accomplished. Maybe I will grow in the esteem of my fellow man through this visible recognition of my accomplishments. It motivated me and inspired me.
In your law firm environment, you may not be able to sew badges or pin medals on the suit of your associates, but you can still give them recognition. Why is it so important? According to Maslow, the need to be recognized is so high that he ranks it as one of our five fundamental human needs. Not a want. But a need. It has the same level of importance as food, clothing, water, and all the rest that fall on the pyramid of human needs.
Because it’s not as obvious, you need to be deliberate and intentional about doling out liberal doses of recognition to those who are under your charge. And make it public. Do it in front of their peers. It doesn’t have to be formal. Even a casual but enthusiastic ‘good job on your work product!’ when there are four other associates standing next to them gives you a tremendous amount of influence and leadership power.