The first of the recognition ideas that I have for you is called cumulative cards. This is a fantastic and easy way to give immediate recognition. Cumulative cards are a business card size stock that you create any way you want. Now the cumulative cards that I have just say, “Thank you, we can’t succeed without you”. That’s all it says on the card, and then at the bottom it says, “Collect 15 cards and redeem for ___”. Now you can decide if it’s 10 cards they need to collect or 20 cards or whatever it might be, and you can also decide what they get to redeem it for. It might be a $25 gift card to a restaurant or a theater. It might be some company apparel or logo wear, whatever it is that you want to offer. It might be a number of things, but find out what they like and allow them to accumulate these cards.
The one rule I make is that they have to keep track of their own cards. They can’t come say “Oh, well I lost a card. Can you replace it?” No [ha ha] they keep track of their own cards. But this is a great way to keep them on your person or keep them with your key people or your support leaders and allow them to hand them out. Now you don’t want to be too liberal, but you don’t want to be too stingy. You’ve got to find a balance somewhere in the middle and handing out these cards helps people to get excited about what they’re doing.
The next one that I’m going to share with you is a handwritten note. This is old fashioned but boy does it work. I want you to image a day where three staff members are missing, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. It’s chaos. Every bad client that you have on your client list has come in and caused chaos in your organization, and the people that you had there had to stay late that day. Now when they come in the next day do you think that their jar is full? Do you think that they want to come in the next day? It may even be that they decide to call in sick, but on their station or in their area sits a card. A handwritten card, and the card says, “Thank you so much for the extra mile you went yesterday. It is people like you that help us to win. You are sincerely appreciated for all you do.” Signed: ‘The boss’. Want to sweeten the deal a little bit? Throw in their favorite coffee the next time you go through the coffee line and get them their favorite coffee, or maybe some chocolates or a small gift card or whatever it is that you want to do; you can sweeten it up a little bit more.
A Posted Board
The next one is a posted board or a recognition board. This one’s a great idea, and I recommend this for really any size organization and it works extremely well in small to mid-size organizations. It’s a bulletin board that’s situated in an area where employees congregate so it could be an employee breakroom or a timeclock area or wherever it is you want to put it. On the board exists all of the things that would cause their jars to refill. So that might mean thank you cards from specific clients that have written in. Or it might mean maybe you did a community event, and the city mayor writes a letter to you – you can go ahead and include the team on that handwritten by you with a big thanks and a smiley face on it, and post that on the board so that they see that you understand not only are they recognized, but so is the team. You could put your own handwritten notes on it, or you key people or support managers could put notes on it. There’s a number of things that you could put on this board to refill them.
Now here’s the cool thing about it: they’re always going to be gravitating to that board to see if their name is on it or if their team member. Then they’re going to run back and say “Hey I saw your name on the board today” or “I saw our team on the board today”. You also want to make sure that you’re posting scores or goals that have been achieved, or putting pictures up there of employee events or training events or parties that you’ve had so that they can reminisce on those feelings of excitement and encouragement along the way. The list goes on and on but you want to make sure that the board gets refreshed. Every two weeks is what I recommend, but at the very least: every thirty days. Otherwise it just gets old and passé and they quit looking at it.
The next one is a team competition. Now this one is kind of fun because you can look at it in a number of different ways and I’m just going to use manufacturing as an example, but your organization does have parallels in what the departments do together. With this particular one we are going to use the example of safety, so all of manufacturing, even if it’s 2000 people on board is striving for safety. So through the departments you have this competition. It lasts from month to month because I always had monthly meetings with my team; I still recommend that especially for team training, etc. You would go ahead and start the competition off, and the team that did the best would be the winner, but you want to make sure (like the basketball story) they all feel like they’re part of the win. So you have a pizza party with beverages and cake, but guess whose name is on the cake? It’s the winner, or maybe it is two departments and both of them are on there. So you’re all celebrating the victory together and you can look forward to the next time.
The next one kind of fits alongside of that and it’s something that I recommend doing on a month to month and it’s called a passed award. This is something you can have a lot of fun with and you can have a sense of humor, and kind of yuk it up and have a lot of fun with this. But the passed award can be anything. It can be a rubber chicken. I had a little plastic figurine that was in the shape of a victory stance, and I’m telling you my team had to have that in their area from month to month. They were usually rewarded for something significant that they did or a goal that they achieved. They had the privilege of putting it in their area and it was a great conversation piece. It’s not so much what it was that was passed, it was the idea that they were brought to the front of the meeting and awarded this silly passed award. That was what they were after. It was the recognition part of it. So don’t get wrapped up in what it needs to be rather than what you do with it and how you pass it.
And then the last one is an oldie but a goodie; published recognition. This has always been a faithful and true way to recognize people on a consistent basis. A piece of advice; always be specific. In other words: don’t just write in there “Congratulations to the High/Low team for the great job they did”. That’s not enough. Make sure you list some specific statistics or ways in which you are recognizing them or even name names. However you can make it more special and more thought out, real, and authentic the better and more effective it will be.
So in wrapping up here, happy workers equal happy customers. Happy customers equal happy workers. What are the results of a high performing, high morale team? Retention, attendance, safety, accuracy, productivity, and profitability. A leader is great not because of his power, but because of his ability to empower others.