Your people generally appreciate knowing that they’re doing a good job. But do you ever find yourself repeatedly saying “Good Job” like some one-trick pony? If so, try some new tactics for employee recognition. Investing a little thought into how you go about acknowledging and appreciating hard work can have a big impact. The more effort you put forth, the more it shows that you understand your people, really know who they are, and truly value their hard work and contributions to your organization’s success. Also, while verbal praise can be very effective for some cases, it might not be as effective for other situations. So in addition to such verbal praise, consider promotions, pay raises and increased responsibilities — all such items should be readily available in your bucket of effective rewards and recognition.
Here are some more tips for making your efforts of appreciation more effective.
Get specific. Simply saying “Good job” may sound nice, but it’s not as meaningful as “Great job with how you structured your presentation format today. It was easy to follow, and I’d like for everyone to consider it a model for how to make an effective presentation.” This is the type of verbal praise that doesn’t just feel good but serves to reinforce what was done right. It becomes not just nice information but useful information as the employee now knows how to meet or even exceed future expectations. Specific praise, given verbally or otherwise, reinforces the behavior while nonspecific praise that’s overdone or carelessly misused can account to mere—and eventually meaningless—flattery.
Understand an individual’s motivators. Bob might need a raise because he’s planning to put three kids through college soon. Jane does not want more money—she simply wants more responsibility and a better title. Meanwhile, Marvin might feel more valued if he were able to apply his responsibilities to an exciting high-profile project. Everyone on your team is going to want and appreciate something different when it comes to being rewarded. So the best way to figure out what truly makes your people happy is to ask them or get to know them well enough to make a pretty good guess. Then do what you can to reward them appropriately within your realm of resources.
Match recognition to performance. If you give a big bonus for something that didn’t truly warrant a big bonus, you’re setting yourself up for future trouble because you’ve set unrealistic expectations. Then again, if you give someone a $20 gift card as a reward for pioneering a solution that saved your company $1 million, you’ll also be in trouble when that underappreciated employee quits and goes elsewhere! When you’re deciding how much to recognize and reward, look closely at what it is you’re acknowledging and define its true worth. Then align whatever you’re giving or doing to match that appropriately. Above all, aim to be fair!
What success or challenge have you had concerning employee recognition with your team?