Done anything worthy of recognition this week? Did anybody notice?
You can be sure that if you occasionally feel taken for granted at work, so do those around you – employees, colleagues and supervisors.
Workloads are heavy, the number of helping hands is shrinking, and pay increases are hard to come by. The fact that someone notices your day to day contributions means a lot. In fact, it can make the difference between feeling good about your role at work and asking “Why bother? What’s the use?”
When recognizing the actions of others, keep several factors in mind. Not everyone likes to be acknowledged in the same way. Some crave public attention, others shun it. Match your approach to the receiver’s preferences. That means you’ll need lots of variety in technique.
Repeating the same form of reward loses impact over time, so plan to change your approach regularly.
Mix formal and informal rewards. Five year certificates and ten year pins have their place, but it’s frequent informal positive feedback that encourages people to keep on going. Be specific about just what it is you are recognizing. “Good job” or “Way to go” are short on details.
Get to know people’s names and use them often. Add contributors’ names to reports and product information. Name an award, a day, a piece of equipment, a product after a key employee or an employee’s child. Use real employees in advertising photos and annual reports.
Introduce physical tokens of appreciation. Present a pack of lifesavers to someone who helped you out of a jam. Polish up an old trophy cup, christen it appropriately, and fill it with goodies. Award the trophy in response to a deserving effort and charge the recipient with replacing the goodies and passing the cup along to another worthy receiver.
Print thank you’s, note cards, or post it notes with a message of recognition on the front: Bravo, Pat On The Back, Atta Person, Great Stuff, etc. Distribute a supply to everyone in the organization. Suggest they use them to recognize helpful deeds by writing a few specific comments inside and tucking the cards in places that will surprise the receivers. Send notes to employees’ homes so other family members can share the pride.
Think surprise. Cover someone’s desk with balloons. Conspire with co-workers to deliver one flower an hour to a birthday colleague. Spring for a six foot submarine sandwich for lunch for the team. Tuck a chocolate bar halfway down a pile of paperwork for a snowed under employee. Hire a professional masseuse to come to the office for a couple of hours to give neck and shoulder massages during an especially stressful time.
Access to upper management can be a reward in a large organization. Bring senior management down to work the front lines for an afternoon. Involve employees in focus groups to give management feedback on specific business topics. Arrange a small group lunch with the CEO.
Short stretches of time off can be a much appreciated reward – from an extra break to a long lunch to knocking off two hours early in the afternoon. Cover off the work in the person’s absence, so that time off doesn’t translate to double time the next day.
Create small celebrations and promote special events as a preventive measure to counter the wear and tear of the daily grind. Sponsor an Ugly Tie Day, a Noon Murder Mystery Adventure Series, comedy videos at lunch, or a “Smile You’re On Polaroid” Picture Day.
Remember that recognition is not a magic elixir. All of the encouraging words in the world won’t fix serious problems and conflicts that are swept under the carpet and never addressed. Tackle the tough stuff, too!
© Patricia Katz MCE CHRP of Optimus Consulting is a speaker, author and consultant who helps individuals and organizations restore the rhythm of renewal to work and life. To bring Patricia’s expertise to your organization, contact her at www.patkatz.com or toll free at (877) 728-5289