Heads of Comms – Are the members of your team honking like geese?

29 Oct 2015 by Sarah Leembruggen.

Gung Ho!: How to Motivate People in Any Organisation’ is an inspiring read, linking the behavior of animals to show how people should interact effectively in the workplace.

In the 13 years that I have been running The Works, I have headed up teams of all shapes and sizes – and one thing that they all have in common is the desire to be appreciated for their work. Recognition motivates team members to do an even better job in the future, since they know you value their efforts. So don’t hold back on handing out commendations – or you could find there’s no one left to receive your words of praise.

Data from Oracle shows that 30% of UK workers said their peers have the most positive impact on how engaged they feel. That’s a big statistic and bears thinking about if you want to nurture a ‘recognition-rich’ culture.

As an employer, I dole out praise on a regular basis – and from time to time, I am on the receiving end of it too. So what have I learnt when it comes to appropriate praise and recognition?

1. Give praise frequently

I was once told to give praise three times as much as I normally would. It sounded a little extreme at the time but it’s not. We all enjoy receiving compliments, so I am mindful of making sure I give plenty of meaningful feedback and recognition for a job well done. Gen Y in particular is driven by progress and achievement. They need to know exactly what is expected of them and if their work is on track. So I give them a crystal clear career path, explain all big goals and milestones and let them know that their efforts are appreciated and valued.

2. Dish out the praise in real time

While the annual review may be the ideal time to assess how employees are doing, talk through any issues and set goals together, it is not the one and only time to give praise for the year’s achievements. Successes – both big and small – need to be celebrated as they happen. Nobody wants to wait for a year to hear how they’re performing – the chances are, they’ll be long gone before the review comes around. I make a point of holding a monthly meeting with each team member so that we can communicate openly and recognise accomplishments as well as staying on top of goals and objectives.

3. The praise should come from everyone – not just the boss

I am extremely mindful of the market – at present, it’s all about competitive hiring and high staff turnover – so having an effective recognition scheme in place goes a long way towards employee engagement and retention. The scheme is simple and it works because it’s collaborative. I am not the only one who dishes out the rewards. Members of the team nominate each other for their good work via our online HR system – when someone sees a colleague doing work that is aligned with company values or goes above and beyond, they can give kudos. It’s a wonderful way to embed recognition into our engagement strategy.

4. Specific praise encourages employees to work with a purpose

I know that our kudos system works because the members of the team are all really active using it, and the kudos has to be given for something specific, which makes it meaningful to the receiver. The system is set up in such a way that everyone can see who has been given kudos so the recognition is widespread and the chosen employee feels genuinely appreciated. It’s been instrumental in nurturing our high performance culture. I am nonetheless conscious that some employees respond better to one-to-one recognition. Not everyone wants to be praised in front of the team.

5. Everyone wants to be the best

Even though we may not admit it, we are in competition with each other every day – and I see no point in making a secret of this in our workplace. We have targets to meet and a world to conquer! One small but important step towards realising this is to tot up the kudos every month and give out an ‘employee of the month’ award to the team member who has received the most. It’s become an essential ingredient in our office culture.

Remember: Praising an employee or a colleague for a job well done costs you nothing, and there is no cap on the amount of praise you can give. Maybe it’s time to bring in the geese?

The Works specialise in placing high flyers in PR and corporate communications. We have a strong track record of placing with professional services and offer career-making advice. Do get in touch if you would like our support building your team.

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