Recognition Tips

Are You Recognizing Your People?

Winning cultures recognize employee behavior and performance, and they do it formally and regularly.   Here are some ideas you might consider implementing…

  • A Top Excellence Award – given annually to a department or team that had a great year. Comes with a trophy or some nice glass-cut award…
  • Your Personal Recognition Award – something fun and meaningful that you award personally to an individual as you travel the company. A tangible object (some symbol of the company’s products, perhaps) and a $50 American Express gift card. Gather people around and publicly bestow the gifts and celebrate the accomplishments. Take a picture with the person, and write them a thank you card – send them the card and the photo so they can display in their office/cube. Pick up a copy of any of David Novak’s books (former CEO/Chairman of YUM Brands) – they contain great stories of how we did it at PepsiCo and Yum Brands (especially O Great One!). Adapt his ideas to your business and your personal style. At Pizza Hut for instance, the President gave out a foam cheese-head and $50 gift card, always in public with lots of people around. You wouldn’t believe how coveted those cheese-heads were – badge of honor that people hung in their offices!
  • Departmental recognition awards or programs. Similar idea to # 2, above. Major department leaders can have their own award that they give out to deserving employees.
  • Spot bonus awards. Any manager can award a spot bonus for particularly awesome work – lots of companies give managers a set budget, and encourage them to use this process to reward and recognize great performance. Often times, it’s a gift card, a Starbucks card, etc…
  • Praise (of Values) cards. Many companies give all employees a stack of “praise” or “thank you” cards centered on the values of the organization. You see someone exhibit a behavior that’s consistent with the values, you write a nice message and give it to them. Employees often tack these cards up in their cubes, display them on their credenzas, etc.
  • Large recognition events. You may already have the big annual meeting or sales conference where awards, pins, trophies, etc. are given out and people are publicly recognized.
  • Parking spaces. Seems silly, but some organizations award prime spots monthly as a way of recognizing the individual.
  • Trips or special events. Tickets to a ball game or concert. Taking someone with you on the road to visit plants, meet colleagues, etc.
  • Lunch with you. A 1-1 with you – a great way to get to know a rising Director or VP that you otherwise wouldn’t get to spend time with. Great for them, good evaluation opportunity for you.
  • Taking high performers to customer meetings. It can be an eye-opening experience to take a junior staffer along on a customer call… think about using this strategically to increase the awareness and experience of the people who serve your customers.

The key here is to “do what fits your culture”. Many of these ideas can be tweaked or adapted to fit your type of employees. What’s universal is the human touch and the public celebration. The tangible award they can display in their office. A little extra cash in their pocket. Having others know they’ve been recognized. Formally appreciating their efforts. The message it sends to everyone is – this company cares about its employees, and its values.