Stewart Smith over at LinkedIn posted a nice list of ways to appreciate employees. I’ve taken and modified it a little bit because I think it’s a list that needs to be passed around (and because my desktop publishing days left me obsessive about formatting)
Mr. Smith has included a group photo from DHL (Manhattan) Employee Appreciation Day, and passes on these great ideas. Anything I’ve added is in italics.
There are myriad studies that make it clear that the primary motivation for discretionary investment in the workplace is NOT money. It is the sense of being appreciated, and the chance to flex one’s creative and technical skill sets in an atmosphere which fosters such opportunities.
- Be generous with praise. Everyone wants it and it’s one of the easiest things to give.
- Get rid of the managers. (Projects without project managers? That doesn’t seem right!) Form project specific teams instead. Let that team do the job. When the project is finished, disband the team and form a new one for the next project.
- Make their ideas yours. Instead of telling people what you want done, ask them to come up with solutions for the problem at hand. When the right/workable idea pops up, give credit and run with it. (See #2). If for some reason no good ideas are forthcoming, lead a brainstorming session yourself using Socratic dialogue (open-ended questions, mind mapping, etc). If your staff “own” the solution, they’ll more readily invest in seeing it through to reality.
- Offer constructive criticism or needed correction privately. No one, and I mean no one, wants to hear that they did something wrong, however there are times when it simply isn’t possible to avoid correcting an employee. Focus on the “fix” rather than the actual mistake, and engage in a convo with the employee that allows non-judgemental processing of what went wrong. Encourage your staff member to try again, and remember that it is PERFECT practice that makes perfect, and until it is perfect, it’s only PRACTICE.
- Make everyone a leader. Trust your employees to do their jobs. Encourage innovation, rotate team leadership &/or reporting responsibility, and reward initiative (See #1)
- Take an employee to lunch once a week. Surprise them. Don’t make an announcement that you’re establishing a new policy – just do it.
- Give recognition and small rewards. These two things come in many forms: Give a shout out to someone in a company meeting for what she has accomplished. Run contests or internal games and keep track of the results on a whiteboard that everyone can see. Give half day flex time for creative solutions that get implemented. Order pizza (or whatever) for a team that beats a deadline or project budget. Start a random sticky-note-on-computer-from-the-boss habit. Just notice good stuff and say so.
- Throw company parties. Doing things as a group can go a long way in creating a loyal, cohesive, working team in the office. Have a company picnic. Organize birthday parties. Hold a happy hour. Invest collective time and money in a community project (nothing like your team competing in a local bed race for charity to raise your company profile with everybody)
- Share the rewards—and the pain. When your company does well, celebrate. This is the best time to let everyone know that you’re thankful for their hard work. When it’s not doing well, say so. Scale back on money spent on the above suggestions, but ramp up the notes, the encouraging comments, and the visible, internal recognition of hard/excellent work.