Two Little Words That Make All the Difference With Employees

I’ve written a few blog posts in the last couple of months where I noticed I used these two words in conjunction – “Useless Unless.” Two little letters of difference, yet a tremendous differentiator.

Think of the ramifications in real life:

  • The fastest car in the world is useless unless you put fuel in the tank.
  • The best education is useless unless you put it to work.
  • The most talented basketball player is useless unless you give him a basketball (and committed team) to play with.
  • An incredibly delicious dinner party is useless unless you have friends and family to invite and share it with.
  • Talented, high-potential employees are useless unless they know the end goal and how to help achieve it.

The missing element

What’s missing that’s most important? “E”

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  • Encourage – We need encouragement at work. Encouragement isn’t just something to be given in tough times, but also to let people know they’re on the right track – their work has greater meaning and purpose in achieving the bigger picture.
  • ExtollDon’t forget the praise. Recognize people when they go above and beyond. Shout their achievements and contributions from the rooftops. Make sure they know their efforts are noticed, appreciated and valued.
  • Engage – If you Encourage and Extol, you’ve taken a giant step forward in creating a work environment in which people choose to engage. And engaged employees are more productive, more easily retained and more beneficial to the bottom line.

What else is useless unless… ?

You can find more from Derek Irvine on his Recognize This! blog.

Derek Irvine is one of the world’s foremost experts on employee recognition and engagement, helping business leaders set a higher vision and ambition for their company culture. As the Vice President of Client Strategy and Consulting at Globoforce, Derek helps clients — including some of world’s most admired companies such as Proctor and Gamble, Intuit, KPMG, and Thomson Reuters — leverage recognition strategies and best practices to better manage company culture, elevate employee engagement, increase retention, and improve the bottom line. He's also a renowned speaker and co-author of Winning with a Culture of Recognition. Contact him at


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