A pat on the back is easily doled out. But giving meaningful, timely and motivating recognition to your employees takes some thought. It’s worth making the effort: a 2015 Gallup study showed that when managers focus on employee strengths, 67% of staff are fully engaged, compared to only 31% when managers are focused on correcting weaknesses. The clear conclusion? Recognition motivates your staff.
High stakes lead to big mistakes – so says behavioural economist Dan Ariely, who argues that big incentives can increase pressure and cause mistakes, unless the task at hand is simple. Complicated, cognitive tasks require a different approach: like gamification. That doesn’t mean cute graphics and acrobatic plumbers; it’s about generating instant gratification for positive behaviours. Creative agencies have adopted this approach to encourage collaboration between regions. For example an executive in Brazil can request input on a creative, and award points to a colleague in New Zealand for a useful suggestion. Leaderboards and prizes for the top collaborators drive participation. Not only does this promote positive behaviour, but it puts the best performers on a pedastal for the whole business to see.
For exceptional outcomes, the personal touch pays dividends. Delivering praise via your company’s social media accounts can have several big benefits. First, it’s public, which shows your stakeholders you value hard work. Second, you can send it from afar if you have to. Third, it’ll give your employee a sense of pride to see their efforts lauded from the digital rooftops. This might feel most at home on LinkedIn, but there’s no reason this can’t extend to Facebook and Twitter too.
Public praise is effective because it earns peers’ respect. Encourage the acknowledgement of that respect with a peer-to-peer recognition system. For large enterprises, there are software solutions that can do the heavy-lifting for you, but for smaller organisations this can be as simple as sending around a Google Form requesting nominations and announcing the results in the next company meeting. At Peakon we present three awards every fortnight to the members of our team who have been recognised by their peers for living our three company values.
Another form of P2P recognition that works great within your immediate team is the informal, success-focused, weekly meeting. Encourage everyone in the team to laud their own achievements and share what they learnt on their road to success. Not only does this get everyone thinking about the positives, but it promotes reflection and knowledge-sharing. Save it for a Friday afternoon so that you end the week on a high – and if you’re keen to add to the celebratory atmosphere, consider wheeling out the beer trolley too.
The principle of all good recognition is showing that you care, so it’s essential that any rewards you give show that you care enough to know what someone would really like. We’ve all had Christmas gifts we don’t want – and actually dislike – because it seems the giver had no idea what we’d appreciate. Does a member of your team love a particular wine? Buy them a bottle for a genuine and meaningful ‘thank you’.
Also in this series:
- Accomplishment: 3 simple ways to provide your team with a sense of accomplishment
- Autonomy: 5 tactics for developing autonomy in your team
- Meaningful Work: 3 ways to make work more meaningful
- Growth: 4 ways you can provide your team with growth opportunities
- Organisational Fit: 3 tips to help you take the right approach to organisational fit
- Freedom of Opinions: 4 tips for boosting freedom of opinions in your team
- Peer Relationships: 3 ways to foster great working relationships