Today we are going to talk about another extremely important leadership and parenting quality: rewarding and recognizing.

Guess what? Rewarding and recognizing is another area in which leaders are primarily responsible. Leaders need to be sincere and operate authentically from their heart because being disingenuous when recognizing people is blatantly obvious and will do untold harm. Be creative, involve your employees, and come up with unique ways to regularly recognize them…and watch their contentment soar.

A survey of 1,500 employees in January 2007 by Ros Taylor Ltd. found that 77 percent of employees claim their supervisor is not interested in them; 79 percent indicate that their managers do not set clear goals; 90 percent think their boss does nothing about poor performance; and 89 percent say their supervisor is not receptive to new ideas and lacks innovation (Taylor, 2007). Don’t be a toxic leader–reach out to your employees.

1. Give Recognition

The manager thinks people want to feel important, the leader knows people need to feel significant. Recognition is a major factor in helping people feel significant. Creating a positive motivational mood amongst your team is a key to getting people to follow your leadership. Being noticed for their efforts and given some recognition for their contribution is a major motivator.

I have  mentioned before how critical it is for the leader to display a positive mood; the leader’s mood has a profound effect on the culture of the organization. Many leaders do not realize the power they generate by simple acts of recognition; we will discuss this further in “Contacting Superior Performers” later on in this blog post.

Look for creative ways to give recognition to everyone on your team–don’t just recognize the top performers. Once again, in the words of the One Minute Manager, “Catch someone doing something right and tell him or her about it!”

2. Compensation

Before introducing rewards ensure that your compensation is fair. Small rewards can inflame staff if they feel their compensation is under the market. If they feel this way, introducing small rewards will be seen as a cheap way to buy their loyalty.

3. Qualifying for Reward

Establish a merit-based reward system for all employees. Rewards should be delivered within the departments. For example, ensure sales rewards are only delivered to salespeople who meet:

  • Customer service standards
  • Quality standards
  • Compliance standards

4. Daily Recognition

There are many ways to ensure you that leaders create a habit of daily recognition. Create a program that works for you and stick at it. I recognize at least five people daily and utilize the “sticky tab” routine.

Here are some suggestions on how to remember to recognize:

  • Put five sticky tab flags on the right side of the telephone, transferring one to the left each time you recognize someone.
  • Put five coins in your pocket and transfer one to other pocket for each recognition act.
  • Keep five recognition cards on your desk and make sure they aren’t there at the end of each day.
  • Create a section in your weekly planner that lists people to praise and cross off as you catch them doing something right.
  • Leave voice mail messages on cell phones praising their efforts; they can play these messages for their family and friends.

5. Praise Specifically

  • When giving praise, do not generalize. Make it specific and meaningful:
  • You’ve made my day because…
  • You really make a difference by…
  • I’m impressed with…
  • You did fantastic with…
  • What a great job on…
  • What an example you set for the team when you…
  • You can be really proud of yourself for…
  • You deserve a “Ta Da” for…

6. Recognize Appropriate Behavior

Top performances certainly need to be recognized, but ensure you do not overlook the following:

  • Personal bests, individual and team
  • Positive behavioral changes
  • Top efforts from new people
  • Team players

7. Involve the Family

Respecting family values and responsibilities in your company and really caring about your employees and their families will reward you ten-fold with loyalty and commitment. Send a card home praising your hard working employees and acknowledging the support that they provide. Include a surprise with this card, such as movie tickets, dinner or shopping voucher for partners.

8. Rewards–Not Entitlements

Ensure your rewards are not seen as entitlements; they need to be earned. If everyone receives an end-of-year bonus or some other benefit, withdrawing or changing them will be seen as a loss of entitlement.

9. Roll up Your Sleeves; Show Support

Always show your employees that you are not afraid to roll up your sleeves and help when they are struggling. Let them know “we are all in this together”; that kind of support and recognition is one of the best ways to develop trust and credibility. If you are not sure how to solve the problem, find someone who can right away so that your employees know that you care about the problems they face and are there to help when they are at a loss. Help when it is needed, but don’t over do it. Let employees reach for and solve challenging problems that are within their grasp.

“Every single person you meet has a sign around his or her neck that says ‘Make me feel important.’ If you can do that, you’ll be a success not only in business but in life as well.” –Mary Kay ASH

By  Ken Wright
(+61) 414 157 657