What are some great ways to recognize team members for accomplishments?

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This topic contains 41 replies, has 22 voices, and was last updated by Profile photo of Corey McCarren Corey McCarren 2 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #152573
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    One thing I love to do is nominate my team members for an internal rewards & recognition program we have when they do something outstanding.

    What other ways have you found to recognize your teams for going above and beyond, or even just for a job well done?

  • #152655
    Profile photo of Corey McCarren
    Corey McCarren
    Participant

    Sometimes the least over-the-top acknowledgement goes a long way. When I was in my schools Student Association, we had Fierce Frederick (a stuffed version of our school mascot) and any senator who did exceptionally well at something that week, the current holder of Frederick gave him to that person for the week and announced why. Yeah it was lame and corny, but at the same time it’s just a simple acknowledgement that they’re doing a great job.

  • #152653
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    I’ll add another. I believe in an immediate feedback model, for both positive and negative feedback. If you pay attention, you can give immediate feedback to a team member at least once a week if not more, and 80% is going to be totally positive.

    It takes 10 seconds:

    Permission -“Can I give you some feedback”, or “Do you have a moment?”

    Behavior – “You really nailed that presentation”

    Impact – “You made yourself and the whole team look great. Thanks!”

  • #152651
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    That sounds cool Corey, thanks for sharing!

  • #152649
    Profile photo of Joe Williams
    Joe Williams
    Participant

    A number of years ago I started an internal award for recognizing a team member who goes above and beyond. The difference was that it wasn’t I, the team leader, who decided the recipient. Instead, it was a peer-driven award. The recognition is via a plaque posted in the team area with engraved plates of the names of the award recipients, plus an announcement on the larger organization’s website. I’m pleased to see that the award is continuing, even after I’ve since long moved to a new assignment. That tells me it’s working.

  • #152647
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    That sounds awesome Joe! Can you say a bit more about how that was structured? Is it a quarterly award? Did you collect votes from the team?

  • #152645
    Profile photo of Henry Brown
    Henry Brown
    Participant

    IMO the MOST important thing is that the award be tailored to the recipient. A GS-13 step 10 receiving a 50 dollar spot cash award is not a very significant award in spite of the best intentions of all…. A public recognization to someone who is easily embarrassed can rapidly backfire… And the reverse( A GS-3 setp 1 receiving a 50 dollar spot, and the eager social climber receiving a public acknowledgement) can go a long ways toward improving team performance and morale.

  • #152643
    Profile photo of Heather Coleman
    Heather Coleman
    Participant

    A little recognition goes a long way. I worked with a large team that gave out “Kudos” bars during the all staff meetings. Anyone could nominate someone else for a “kudos” and then explained why they deserved it. It got people thinking about their peers and how they had helped them in the last month.

  • #152641
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    Very true Henry, this is an awesome point!

  • #152639
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    I love that Heather! Did you find that people on the team all engaged with the process, or were there some people who were more shy about recognizing their peers in a public manner like that?

  • #152637
    Profile photo of Raymond Clark
    Raymond Clark
    Participant

    I will tell you that this simple formula means more to me than any peice of paper, wood, or glass. Thanks Josh!

  • #152635
    Profile photo of Peggy Wright
    Peggy Wright
    Participant

    You should recognize team members once a week — just saying thanks (be specific about what its for). A nice way to recognize a job nicely done is to present a “carrot” or praise at a all hands team meeting. just be careful its genuine and not always the same team member so it doesnt become a disincentive to others. Find out how people like to be recognized. Remember, we are all different in how we like to be recognized!

  • #152633
    Profile photo of Mindy Giberstone
    Mindy Giberstone
    Participant

    Reward can also be cross training (or exposure) with another area of your agency or Dept. People want to know more about how the system works as a whole and sometimes, a couple of hours with another team that you only tangentially work with can make a big impression.

  • #152631
    Profile photo of Raymond Clark
    Raymond Clark
    Participant

    Oh, another great idea!

  • #152629

    I just saw a commerical yesterday for GE Systems where the patients who benefited from the GE medical technology that the team developed got to meet the team. This seemed like a great way to recognize the team of GE employees who don’t normally get to meet the beneficiaries of their technology. This same principle could be used for anyone’s ultimate customers.

  • #152627
    Profile photo of Joe Williams
    Joe Williams
    Participant

    When I started it initially, I gave the current award holder total freedom to decide when to “pass it on” by selecting the next recipient. That worked OK at first, but then it stalled when one award holder had a too high of a standard and held the award for over a year. Before I left the team, I would note when a team member made a noteworthy contribution and would quietly poll the rest of the team, starting with the current award holder. If a supermajority concurred (including the current award holder), the person to be recognized would be presented the award by the current award holder. Goal was to make this semiannually so as not not be too frequent to diminish the lustre of the award, and not too infrequently to become “out of sight, out of mind.”

  • #152625
    Profile photo of Thomas Poli
    Thomas Poli
    Participant

    While by no means unique, we instituted an Employee of the Month program based on monthly “themes” such as customer service, internal development, positive attitude, etc. The markers could depend on the business of your agency. Our reward is a reserved parking space for the month which is not a really big deal, but people do like the recognition. The reward itself is not that important–just that there is something.

  • #152623
    Profile photo of Greg Jaquez
    Greg Jaquez
    Participant

    Try creating an offline program in which the office manages take up a periodic collection and give a reward (gift card, savings bond, etc.) monthly/quarterly to a special line staff performer. Feel-good atta-boy/girl stuff is nice but substance goes further. Just don’t break any rules.

  • #152621
    Profile photo of Raymond Clark
    Raymond Clark
    Participant

    Since we are talking about motivation, there are other ways then just direct recognition. I have a boss who once a month had his staff meeting at a local Denny’s. Now, that sounds silly, but it was a great way to break up the monotony of staff meetings and he used it as a way to catch up on peoples lives, feedback, etc. I’ve always remembered that. It may not be practical for everyone, but for small offices its very nice. My current boss takes out his employees on their birthday for lunch. Again, a smaller group, but it can spur some ideas along the same lines.

  • #152619
    Profile photo of Keena Cauthen
    Keena Cauthen
    Participant

    I did two things on my team… first, I bought some “You Make a Difference” coins and put them on the team in a bowl. These were available for anyone to give to another team member who they felt had made a difference to them, either by helping, training, or even just listening — did not have to be directly related to work, as we all know how sometimes life interferes at work and having someone listen or help there can redirect your focus on work. Don’t get me wrong, the coins were for co-workers, not for folks at home, but if you have a good friend at work that you can unload, even a little on, it can help. Then I bought some small office items, recognition awards, and such and put them in a shopping center. I set goals for the team, in alignment with the stations goals, and based upon how they did towards those goals, they got certain number of points and at the end of the month, they got to go shopping in the store. This was a hit, because there was a wide range of items, to appeal to everyone (coffe cups, water bottles, back packs, mouse pads, pens, paper weights, etc) and none of it was marked with the office/station logo. I went with the theme, You Make A Difference, because every case we touch makes a difference to someone and they were not feeling appreciated by upper management. During this time, there was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure to over-perform, with no thanks for those who did. This was my way to keep my team focused, striving to do their best, and to feel appreciated.

    In addition, we had “Star” cards, which were given to the two stars each month. This I did based upon recommendations from peers and personal observations. The Star card allows the holder to take 1 hour off, admin leave, at a future date of their choosing. These were given out at the team meetings, with the reason for the award read off.

  • #152617
    Profile photo of Kathleen Smith
    Kathleen Smith
    Participant

    I think incorporating recognition into your overall leadership style is important. Recognizing people frequently for their input and contribution rather than waiting weekly, monthly or annually fosters a positive atmosphere where members feel that their contributions are worthwhile.

  • #152615
    Profile photo of Katelyn Keegan
    Katelyn Keegan
    Participant

    My office uses the OZ System Principles to keep everyone accountable and to recognize achievements, they developed cards and gave them to everyone to fill out and to pass on to coworkers. They say “I want to recognize (fill in name) for demostrating (Corporate Culture Belief) in the following manner (how they did so). By doing this, they have positively impacted the following Key Desired Result(s): (Corporate Key Desired Result). Given by: (your name) Date: (Date)” On the back of the cards are our cultural beliefs (for example: Deliver Results, Collaborate, Speak Out, Be Decisive, Be Responsive, Celebrate Success) along with a short definition of each. Also on the back of the cards are the organizations key desired results so you can easily fill the card in. Both leadership and colleagues use them and you can walk by anyone’s desk and seem them proudly displayed on cube walls. It’s not much, but it does remind you to strive to uphold our cultural beliefs and to work toward our key desired results.

  • #152613
    Profile photo of Ken Boxer
    Ken Boxer
    Participant

    I enjoy sending out cards to the folks in my organization. Sometimes a little gesture goes a long way. I also captured a few other ideas in my blog Celebrating Valentine’s Day in the Workplace as I think that recognition and employee engagement and retention go hand in hand.

  • #152611
    Profile photo of Nancy Heltman
    Nancy Heltman
    Participant

    We have a great program at Virginia State Parks. We do significant customer service training and emphasize internal customers in addition to our external customers. Internal and external customers alike can submit FOCUS cards (that’s what our program is called) to recognize staff that go the extra mile. For external customers, if we get emails or other notes mentioning special thanks to staff members (and our volunteers) we convert them to the card system. We work pretty hard to make sure the person gets recognized even if the customer doesn’t remember the name of the person who helped them. The first card an employee gets comes with a special certificate from our Director. All of the cards are presented by the Supervisor to the employee. Other forms of recognition are also encouraged. It’s been a great program for us.

  • #152609
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    I love offsites!

  • #152607
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    I agree 100% – I think a combination approach is usually best. I like the immediate feedback model put forth by the Manager Tools guys. 15 seconds is all it takes to give on-the-spot feedback, and I find that 80-90% of the time, it’s positive.

  • #152605
    Profile photo of Terry Geigle
    Terry Geigle
    Participant

    I have had lunch or supper catered in when projects needed to be completed quickly. It lifts everyone’s spirits. It keeps the employees in the work area, during the lunch break. I order food high in protein, to keep work at it’s peak.

    For small rewards, I have created a contest with the winner receiving a large candy bar.

    I bring in a birthday cake, card, and balloon for each employee”s birthday.

    I think I have a very good group of employees. On several occassions they have gone above and beyond their job description, without being asked.

  • #152603
    Profile photo of Phil Bertolini
    Phil Bertolini
    Participant

    I agree Josh, the immediate feedback model has always worked well for me.

  • #152601
    Profile photo of Marie Andrie
    Marie Andrie
    Participant

    When a team member gets a “kudo” from a customer in an email, the email is forwarded to their supervisor. Every team meeting ends with the supervisors reading the kudos for the entire team to “hear and cheer”. Each meeting ends on a positive note. It’s a small measure that goes a long way.

  • #152599
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    I like it Marie, thanks for sharing!

  • #152597
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    Excellent ideas Terry, thank you!

  • #152595
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    Do you know if the supervisors just give the awards in person, or are they always given out at a team meeting or other group function?

  • #152593
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    I absolutely agree Ken, recognition/engagement and retention are intimately linked!

  • #152591
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    Love it Peggy. I have also found regular, genuine feedback to be very powerful. Immediacy is also important I’ve found, if possible I like to give the feedback within a few minutes after observing a behavior I want to give feedback about to a team member.

  • #152589
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    Love it! When starting a new release, I asked my team what they would like to focus on. I suggested some of them may want to branch out and work on a component in our system they aren’t familiar with. Two of them decided to switch languages, this is how it played out:

    Earlier focus >> Chosen focus in new release

    C++ >> PERL (job control work)

    PERL >> Qt (UI work)

    The C++ guy was eager to brush up on his PERL skills, and the PERL guy was really excited about working on the user interface. They both threw themselves into it and had a blast. I think they did their best work. And now they have new skills and experience they are proud of.

    So don’t be afraid to let people work on things they are passionate about, even if it’s not their traditional role. Often it’s a win-win for everyone involved.

  • #152587
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    Now THAT is powerful. I love it!

  • #152585
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    Thanks Thomas! I’m a bit conflicted on “Employee of the Month” programs myself.I like team awards primarily, and perhaps some individual awards but not as a routine cycle; only when someone has truly done something outstanding. My $.02

  • #152583

    This isn’t really a team award strategy but one thing we allow project managers to do is maintain a budget to award employees each month. What part of that requirement is to be innovative. We try to personalize the award as much as we can based on the employee’s preferences/interests. Past examples include caps/redskins tickets, top golf gift cards, restaurant gift cards (foodies love this!), concert tickets, blue label scotch (super popular), etc.

    We try to demonstrate that the project manager is interested in the professional development of each rockstar on the team by rewarding them with more of an award that fits their personal interests. Doesn’t work all the time, but has proven to be a great motivator for us! And if you are unsure of someone’s personal interests than a quick scan on social media can tip you off in a hurry.

  • #152581
    Profile photo of Josh Nankivel
    Josh Nankivel
    Participant

    That’s so awesome! I really wish my organization did this. I’ve given out gift cards to someone’s favorite restaurant and taken my team out to celebrate a release several times before, but it’s always out of my own pocket.

    If it were a funded activity for every team, it would happen on every team. Which would be awesome!

  • #152579
    Profile photo of David Dejewski
    David Dejewski
    Participant

    Might I link in a bunch of others put forth by GovLoopers? Feel free to steal… er borrow any you like.

    Check out:

    Awesome-est Employee Rewards!

  • #152577
    Profile photo of Sandy Heierbacher
    Sandy Heierbacher
    Participant

    I like Denny’s staff meetings idea, Raymond, but I’m not so sure about the birthday lunch idea. What if you don’t WANT to have lunch with your boss on your birthday?? :)

  • #152575
    Profile photo of Sandy Heierbacher
    Sandy Heierbacher
    Participant

    I love these ideas, Keena! You sounds like you would be a wonderful person to work with.

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