The effective manager must have a broad skill set. Among the most important roles a manager plays is that of a leader and motivator. That requires being a disciplinarian at times and a cheerleader at other times. All experienced and effective managers recognize the value of praise and positive reinforcement as a motivational tool.
In Praise of Praise
Most workers want to perform well, but doing so involves a lot of hard work and considerable risk. One school of thought contends that 30 percent of workers always work hard, 10 percent do a poor job, and 60 percent respond to how they are treated. All respond positively to applause.
Praise and recognition are often overlooked as motivators. Managers are busier than ever in today’s fast-paced, stripped down business environment, but how much time does it take to compliment someone on a job well done? It may not mean much to the manager, but it can have a significant impact on the employee. Everyone likes to know that their boss appreciates them and their contributions to the organization.
The role that positive affirmation plays in motivation cannot be overstated. Monetary rewards — bonuses, salaries, and wages — certainly have their place, but many top executives maintain the most important factor in employee motivation is individual recognition.
Recognition of achievement is a powerful elixir, but it cannot be limited to verbal pats on the back. A manager running around all day saying “great job, great job” cheapens the praise. It becomes hollow and loses impact as a motivating force.
The goal in recognizing good performance is to make the individual feel not just well treated-but important. Here are five ways of saying “thank you” and encouraging your achievers-in-waiting to continue giving your company their best efforts.
Praise Publicly: Most good work in a company is done in obscurity. Good work is often invisible, except in the mind of the one who did it. Employees normally do not have the satisfaction of signing their work. The pride of authorship is mitigated by anonymity.
Public recognition gives the employee outward affirmation that he is an important member of your team. One way to do give recognition is mentioning a top performer in the company newsletter, or if appropriate, issuing a press release. Try praising an employee’s exemplary work in a meeting in front of her peers. Ego-driven employees will eat this sort of validation for lunch and the shy achiever gets a charge out of it as well. You are telling the entire group that you recognize she is capable and smart, and you expect her to continue her good performance. People will typically rise to meet high expectations publicly conferred upon them.
In addition to the motivating effect, public recognition communicates to your entire staff: “This is what I mean by good work.”
Send a Letter: Don’t just tell them they are doing a good job. Make it official by putting it in writing. Send a letter of recognition to an achiever’s home, away from the distractions of work and close to family support. This adds impact and allows the employee to show off a bit to the family.
Encourage your managers to send letters about an employee’s outstanding efforts to their superiors. Superiors should send the employee a handwritten note of thanks attached to the original letter. Recognition from the boss’ boss is a huge ego bump. It also fosters positive feeling towards the employee’s direct supervisor.
Compliment with Undivided Attention: Listening is a powerful motivator. Employees can see how busy their managers are and receiving positive personal attention from them is something of a reward in itself.
Inviting an employee to your office for a personal chat is an effective way to achieve this. Compliment them on their work and ask for their opinion on an issue or challenge the company is facing. You may get a fresh perspective and perhaps some new ideas, and the employee knows that you value his input to the point of asking for it. It is a win-win technique.
Better still, go take a seat at his desk and have a chat. The key is giving the employee your undivided attention.
Arrange for Visibility: Arrange for high-achievers to personally present a proposal to management, or report the results of a project in which they participated. The employee must take ownership of the project. Some of the best presentations managers see are carried off by lower-level employees who were intent on impressing management with their smarts and skills. These types of opportunities also reinforce the value of working for merit and not just compensation. Motivate workers by raising the bar. Give them a skin in game and watch them rise to the occasion.
Compliment by Presenting a Teaching Opportunity: Teaching is an ego-gratifying activity. The opportunity to make a presentation to peers or address conferences gives the employee bragging rights for a few days and a good feeling about herself and her prospects for weeks or months. Everyone enjoys being the smartest person in the room from time to time.
Why not let your employees feel that way?
These are just a few ways you can motivate employees with personal recognition. This should give you an idea of what you can do, but don’t limit yourself to these ideas. Be creative, listen to your employees, and encourage good performance by giving them personal the recognition they need.