Recognition from your Peers: What Motivates YOU?

Recognition From Your Peers: What Motivates YOU?

It is that time of year once again when we hear about ways to recognize our fellow co-workers. Whether a staff member, faculty member, student or alum, opportunities are abundant to show that you acknowledge how hard someone is working and that you appreciate that person’s efforts.  But how often do we actually submit something on someone else’s behalf?

When the lottery was in the millions, everyone went out and bought tickets. Groups went together to purchase a chance to change their life forever with a windfall of large amounts of cash.  When you look at the statistics, it is actually more likely that you will get struck by lightning or hit by a bus before receiving millions of dollars through a lottery distribution.

Why do we do this? What motivates us to spend our hard earned cash in large amounts for a possible chance of winning?  It is hard to say.  Everyone is motivated by different things.

Well, ask yourself something. What motivates you when you are on the job?  As a staff member working in Higher Education, you realize that it is not about the large salary that keeps you coming back day after day.  It is more than that. You have to find some sort of personal satisfaction that is gratifying.

For me, it is all about:

  • The challenge to learn what someone needs and what specific resources would work best for that situation
  • The moment for the student when frustration turns into something else
  • The sparkle in someone’s eyes when they finally get it
  • The time when a student takes ownership of individual actions and realizes, “If it is meant to be then it is up to me!”
  • The next time that I see this student and they share what has happened since we last spoke

Coffee Break

We will spend time to go down and get a cup of coffee from the local coffee shop, wait in line, learn the crazy language of explaining what we want and then wait patiently for them to shout out our name, while watching others go through the exact same process. You instantly smell the aroma and feel the warmth of your cup.  You have a sense of accomplishment, although in a very short time the cup will be empty and you will be moving on to the next thing. It is really about the little things.

Imagine if you were to use the same amount of time to acknowledge someone that you work with and let this person know how much you appreciate them. It only takes a few minutes.  It could be a sticky note, a text, an email or a nomination for an award.  Sometimes, it may be kind words that you speak to acknowledge your approval and accolades.  Other times your appreciation is noted by your actions when you buy in to someone else’s idea, you participate in brainstorming to come up with new ideas or you actively listen and take the time to hear someone else’s point of view.

Thank You, Thank You Very Much

Our office has a table dedicated to thank you cards. We provide a notecard and envelope, along with a pen and a notebook that includes the business cards of our on-campus recruiters.  I am very thankful that we have the ability to do this, because I truly believe that we need to send hand written thank you cards.  Not emails, or long letters, but thank you cards that include a few simple sentences acknowledging the interviewer and something learned during the interview.  Maybe the employer mentioned something that was not addressed during the interview. Maybe the student had something in common and wanted to reiterate the situation to help the employer distinguish the student from other applicants.

By providing the thank you cards, the student can fill it out and leave it for the front desk to distribute accordingly. Every once in a while, I ask myself a few questions.  Are we truly encouraging students to be thankful for the interviewing opportunity?  Will the student send a thank you card if we did not provide it?  Will the student remember to do this in the future if we are not prompting them to do it?  I like to think that we are providing fishing poles and helping to teach our students proper protocols, not just providing fresh fish.

Email Request for Nominations

On a daily basis, our email box is flooded with a variety of different messages. Some that must be addressed in a timely fashion, some are flagged for follow up, while others must be deleted.  Managing your inbox takes a constant effort and should really be checked regularly.

As you receive emails promoting ways to recognize your co-workers, what do you do with them? You might keep them in your inbox, consider nominating someone and then you get busy, or you have more important things you need to do that you do not make this nomination a priority.  You might justify your actions by saying, “Well, I am not sure if this person has truly met the criteria for the award.”  We expect our students to conduct their due diligence and learn as much about the position and employer, as possible.  Yet, when it comes to acknowledging others, we do not always take the time to determine the best person to nominate or ways to show our appreciation.


Just a moment ago, I answered my work phone and on the other end was a student that I had helped over a year ago. She is currently in a leadership class and one of her assignments is to acknowledge someone that has made a difference in her life.  She called me.  She went on to say how much she appreciated all that I did for her and the way that I made her feel.  It almost brought tears to my eyes.  Who knew that at the very moment I was writing about the importance of being thankful, someone would call me and show their appreciation.  What an incredible moment.


A while back, Jerry Seinfeld created an animated film called, “THE BEE MOVIE”.  As a bee that was graduating from high school, Jerry wanted to go out into the world and see what it was like before he accepted a specific position that he would do for the rest of his life.

On one occasion, Jerry was trapped inside an apartment and he was trying to get back outside. The window was closed and he kept running into the glass again and again.  All the while, he was saying, “This time. This time. This time.”  If you have not seen this movie, I would highly recommend it.

The next time you receive an email or someone mentions a way to recognize your peers, think about it. Everyone is busy.  There are only 24 hours in a day.  Make the most of yours.  Remember, it is not about you.  It is about them. As the song goes, it only takes a spark to get a fire going.  If you plan to nominate someone, then consider promoting the nomination with others. Work together to acknowledge someone, not because you have to do it, but because you want to do it.  It is amazing what people will do with the proper motivation.

Respectfully submitted,

Debbie Boles | Assistant Director ~ OU Career Services | Alumni | Graduate College | University College | International Students | Veterans | Students with Disabilities | LGBTQ Students | Liberal Studies | Continuing Education | | | Office: 405.325.1974 | Fax: 405.325.3402

OU Career Services – serving OU students for 70 years


2 thoughts on “Recognition from your Peers: What Motivates YOU?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s