Recognition is important and has its place. If you have responsibility over people you should be giving proper recognition when recognition is due.
However, if you want highly motivated people in your team, you should choose people that accept recognition thankfully, but do not depend on it for doing a great job and exceeding expectations.
(Something similar can be said about incentives.)
(…) when you expect applause, when you do your work in order to get (and because of) applause, you have sold yourself short. When your work depends on something out of your control, you have given away part of your art. If your work is filled with the hope and longing for applause, it’s no longer your work —the dependence on approval in this moment has corrupted it, turned it into a process in which you are striving for ever more approval. If it’s finished, the applause, the thanks, the gratitude are something else. Something extra and not part of what you created. If you play a beautiful song for two people or a thousand, it’s the same song, and the amount of thanks you receive isn’t part of that song.
- Seth Godin, The Icarus Deception. How high will you fly?, p. 71. ↩