Rewards don't have to be financial.
Imagine this scenario: One of your team members has saved the company a significant amount of money with a process she spent weeks creating.
It's right before the winter holidays, so you decide to reward her with a turkey that she and her family can enjoy for dinner one night.
You make a big deal of presenting the turkey to her. She smiles and shyly accepts the gift, quickly putting it in the office refrigerator. You feel good because you rewarded her efforts, and she seemed to be happy about the recognition.
But is she? Things aren't always as they appear. You didn't take the time to learn whether or not she eats meat, so you didn't discover that she's a vegetarian. And you didn't consider that she commutes to the office one hour by train – so by the time she gets that frozen turkey home to give away to friends, it will be a drippy, soggy mess.
Have you ever wondered why the rewards you offer don't seem to be received very well? We often hear from business experts about how important it is to reward your team. But it's equally important to take the time to find out how your team would really like to be recognized. Sometimes people don't want a bonus or pay raise. Instead, what they'd really like is a sincere "thank you" or a day off to spend with their families.
This article can help you learn the "ins and outs" of recognizing your team.
Although the idea of rewarding workers beyond their pay and benefits package seems obvious, some leaders avoid the practice, perhaps because they feel that showing appreciation undermines their authority, perhaps because they want to avoid stirring up jealousy in other members of the team, perhaps because they feel they don't have the time to do it, or perhaps because they feel embarrassed praising people openly.
This is a shame, because these attitudes reduce their own performance, and all of these problems can or should be avoided. The most successful leaders are those who recognize and reward their team's efforts. This not only builds trust, but it strengthens loyalty as well. Turnover is often much lower in teams that have a strong bond with their leader, and this impacts a company's bottom line.
You should also remember that, for the most part, the world's talent pool is shrinking – mostly due to declining birth rates, which leads to an aging workforce. This means that it's becoming harder for organizations to find the people they need. Finding and keeping talented people is a key issue, and the companies that figure out how to do this now will likely be the ones that succeed far into the future. One of the best ways to keep these people is to make sure that their hard work is appreciated. If finding the few minutes needed to recognize people is a problem, just think how much time you'd have to spend replacing them!
Appropriately rewarding team members for something they've done takes some effort on your part. If you don't put much thought into what you're doing, then you may just upset the people you're trying to thank. This is why you should sit down with your team and find out how they'd really like to be rewarded.
For example, if your team is about to start a major project, find out:
Learning how your team would like to be recognized, and how you can show your appreciation, is a vital step toward making sure that your efforts will be appropriate.
Because the return on appreciation is huge. Workers who feel appreciated are twice as likely to stay at a company than those who don't feel appreciated.
If you think you don't have time or can't afford to show appreciation to your team, then stop and think about how much you currently invest in hiring and training new people. How much would you save if your turnover were lower? Probably a lot, which is why recognizing your team's efforts is almost always cost-effective.
And don't think that daily gratitude will "wear out" your team. Has anyone ever thanked you so many times that it lost its meaning? Probably not. It's not likely that your team will ever get tired of receiving your appreciation.
Just make sure you're sincere about why you thank people. And don't rush the "thank you" while you're on your way somewhere else. This WILL probably make your gestures lose their meaning. Stop, look at the person, and tell him how much you appreciate what he's doing.
These small gestures cost nothing except a few seconds of your time, but their payoff is enormous.
Remember these guidelines:
As we said earlier, chances are high that your team isn't looking for a bonus check or pay raise to feel appreciated. Often, smaller gestures go further and end up costing you less in the long run. Here are some creative ideas to consider for showing appreciation to your team:
There are thousands of creative ways to say "thank you." The great thing about these gestures is that they'll probably be remembered far longer than any bonus check. You'll show your appreciation – and, at the same time, you'll strengthen the bond between you and your team.
Listen to our Expert Interview with Chester Elton, who talks in detail about using recognition in practice within the workplace. You can also read Bruna Martinuzzi's article on the subject, which, as well as giving elegant insights into the value of praise, points towards useful supporting resources.
Leader need to say "thank you" regularly. Your team members will likely work much harder if they feel that what they're doing really makes a difference, and that their efforts are noticed by those with "power."
Thank-you gifts don't have to be extravagant or costly. Small gestures are often remembered longer than financial bonuses. These small, entertaining rewards can also help promote a sense of fun in the workplace, which may go a long way toward helping you retain key talent.
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