Applaud the roadies,
not just the rock stars

“I think the general public has no idea what roadies do. Bless em’ all. I just play the songs. They make the show happen.”

That’s what rock legend Tom Petty once said about roadies, the people who lug the gear around and set things up so that touring bands can play their shows. He was right, and you can apply his wisdom to your workplace.

Every team has rock stars and roadies, and the former tend to get all the praise. It’s up to you – regardless of your role – to make work more rewarding for the people behind the scenes.

The recognition gap between rock stars and roadies

Some roles in an organization naturally attract a lot of attention. Rock stars close big deals, run campaigns, and lead projects to success. And they get applause from the audience – their managers, coworkers, even the public. It’s fairly easy to get recognized if you’re constantly in the spotlight.

But what about backstage? Some people rarely get noticed for their outstanding jobs. Roadies do the work that seems less exciting from the outside, but they’re just as important as the rock stars. They can be everything from junior employees to highly experienced specialists. What they have in common is that others take their work for granted or don’t really understand it.

Four of five employees feel like they don’t get enough recognition from their managers and peers. That’s both a people and a business problem: A lack of recognition at work leads to lower well-being, engagement, and retention. Start noticing the team members who are often forgotten, and chances are that this number will look much better for your team.

How to identify and recognize roadies

So what can you do to recognize unnoticed employees?

First, ask yourself: Which people make my job easier and more enjoyable? Who keeps the spreadsheet I rely on for my daily work up to date? And who makes the under-the-hood improvements to our products that no one can see but every customer can experience? Don’t take these people’s work for granted. Recognize it.

Second, get a better understanding of other people’s jobs. How can you tell if someone is doing a great job if you don’t know what their job is? Broaden your mind by showing a genuine interest in what your coworkers are doing and by learning more about their roles. This doesn’t only make you a smarter person, but it also helps you recognize people outside your field of expertise.

Long story short: Walk through the office with your eyes open. If you come across people who live up to the company values or push the team forward, tell them. You can’t give enough recognition to your employees or coworkers as long as it’s honest.

Want some more practical advice? Read our four tips to improve employee recognition.

Make the show happen

Rock stars deserve to get something back for their great work. In many teams, even these people don’t get enough praise. But don’t forget to also notice the roadies – the unsung heroes in your team. They are the glue that binds everything together. Without them, the rock stars would have out-of-tune instruments, no amps to fill the room with music, and no light to make their performance visible to the audience.

To sum it up, applaud the rock stars and the roadies! If you’re a rock star think of who elevates you to your position. And if you’re a roadie, share your small or big achievements. Chances are no one intentionally forgets about you. When everyone in your team gets well-deserved recognition, you can put on a stellar performance.

P.S.: Feel inspired to praise someone now? Go ahead and tell them what you liked. Or if you’re using a performance feedback tool like Small Improvements, write a public Praise.