Money or recognition. Or both. This is an old conundrum when it comes to rewarding employees. Part of developing your people-or anyone for that matter-is recognizing their progress, acknowledging their contributions, and showing them your appreciation. Handing someone an envelope with an extra paycheck may seem quite generous, and it is. But the check along with a note of appreciation is a lot richer and will probably go a long way. Public recognition could even have a longer shelf life. The point is, you need to figure out which approach you can sustain and if it will be effective in your workplace.
I know a small business owner in Chicago who wanted to give her employees an "experiential" holiday gift. So this past December she presented to each of her three staffers tickets. She gave one woman two tickets to the Lyric Opera, to another, two tickets to see "Wicked," and for someone else, two tickets to see the Bulls. I thought that was pretty impressive. Her gesture demonstrated creativity as well as a commitment to rewarding their good work. An experience can be more memorable than money though for some people nothing compares to cold hard cash. When you´re thinking about rewards and recognition consider the recipient-what would have meaning? What lasts? And what will remind your employee that you appreciate the good work being done?
Providing recognition goes back to a very basic principle that I will bring up time and again: people want to feel valued. The more people feel valued the more likely they will be to further your company´s message. When people feel valued they want to do a good job. It feels good and it feels like the right thing to do. Remember what I mentioned a few posts ago about taking time out to recognize the good works of your star employees (versus always paying attention to those who struggle). Sometimes your star employees make their work and their jobs look effortless. And sometimes that´s a curse. If you´re consistently doing a great job, but no one notices then you start to wonder why you´re working so hard. So don´t let a whole lot of time pass without saying something. Privately offering praise goes a long way but so does recognition before an audience.
If you´re thinking you don´t have time to recognize or praise your staff, please reconsider. If you need to be persuaded, give it a try at least so that you can see for yourself whether or not this is a good way to motivate, which is part of developing your employees. For better or for worse, employee recognition is not a daily occurrence, so when it does happen it garners some attention. It sort of reminds me of what happens when a customer goes out of her way to acknowledge the good service she received. Companies receive far more criticism from their customers than kudos, but whom am I telling? You probably already know that. Then why not take the same effect that positive feedback has on a company and apply it to your own organization.
If you´re wondering what kind of recognition might be appropriate think about what would appeal to you and don´t be afraid to poll your employees. Explain that you have to stay within a budget (even if you haven´t figured that part out yet) and tell them that their responses will be confidential (and then be sure to keep that promise). You may be surprised at what they tell you.
To help you get started consider some of these ideas from Love "Em or Lose "Em: Getting Good People to Stay by Beverly Kaye and Sharon Jordan-Evans. Here, the authors ask readers to consider forms of recognition that they might appreciate as well as ones that "might not matter to you."
"?¢ An award, preferably given in front of my peers
"?¢ A thank-you, in writing, from my boss
"?¢ A note to my boss´s boss about my excellent performance
"?¢ A day off
"?¢ A raise
"?¢ A chance to go to lunch with senior management
"?¢ A change in my title
"?¢ A small memento or gift
"?¢ Some flexibility in my schedule