Let me open this blog with a sad story. A good friend of mine had a relatively happy childhood but always felt that her older, black sheep brother got the lion's share of attention from her mom. My friend, unlike her brother, was a straight-A student who never got in trouble.
When her mother died, she was speaking to an older woman at the funeral home and said that she always felt like her mother loved her brother more. The woman responded, "No, honey, she just felt like she had to show him more love."
This was some consolation to my friend, but it couldn't undo years of feeling like an afterthought.
Now although that story occurred within a family, I see it a lot in workplaces. Some managers feel like they don't have to encourage the superstars with compliments because those superstars are internally motivated to do their best anyway.
Sometimes, there are even more insidious reasons for the lapses: the manager is jealous of the superstar employee, the manager doesn't want to feed the superstar's ego because then he or she might leave for greener pastures, etc.
It is true that most outstanding employees will do great things with or without the manager's encouragement. But that's no excuse for a manager to take an employee for granted.
Everyone needs to be nurtured and encouraged. Recognition and encouragement should not just be tools for improving behavior. Be a great leader and give credit where credit is due.
Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.