Over at Random Thoughts Of A Boston-based CTO: John Moore’s Weblog, you’ll find a post describing a team building event in which he recently participated. It sounds like it was a lot of fun and I only wish I had been there to sample some of the, ah, “outcomes.”
John’s example reminds me that team building and employee recognition can fall into two broad categories.
- Episodic Events like the one John describes, designed especially for bonding and team building. Other examples are the annual sales or awards banquet and company picnics.
- Continual This category deals with how your treat your team or employees on a daily basis. It includes how you provide them with feedback, both positive and correcting, how you coach them, how you recognize their achievements as they occur.
To successfully motivate employees, you need to create a process that includes both categories. It’s like building a brick wall. The bricks are the events you hold, the banquets, the team building exercises, etc. The mortar is made up of how you treat them on a continuing, day-to-day basis.
You can build a brick wall without any mortar, but it’s inherently weak. Adding the right proportion of mortar to the bricks will result in a much stronger wall that can last for decades.
John’s fortunate that his company had the budget to do something like this. Not everyone finds themselves in that situation. Still, there are other things you can do. In my nonprofit, we’ve had our toughest year ever. But when several of the administrative assistants organized a fundraiser luncheon, plenty of people pitched in. That took no money out of our budget, yet we had a great event and we’ll do it again.
Speaking of my nonprofit, another great way you can participate is to involve employees in local fundraising events, especially those like the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Relay For Life. Putting together teams like these can give employees additional leadership experience and give people a chance to work together when they normally don’t do so. Knowing that they’re benefiting their community is a great moral builder.
Over in the “Continual” category, do you practice, “Catch ‘em doing something good?” Make it a point to compliment at least three of your co-workers every week. Do it in public so their peers will see it, or send them an email copying their supervisor. Do you have a process that provides immediate recognition when someone is successful?
If you create a plan that contains components from both of these categories, you’re going to find yourself with stronger, more motivated employees. Studies have shown that the more your employees are engaged, the more they will work to create satisfied customers.
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