8 Ways Leaders Rock Employee Recognition

Lauren Deegan

Employee recognition can do a lot for your organization. Want more engaged employees? Recognize them. Want better financial results from your employees? Recognize them. Whatever the results you’re aiming for, strong employee recognition practices can help you get them.

Even better, getting recognition right doesn’t have to be tough. In fact, a lot of what makes leaders rock at recognition is just common sense when you think about it. Consider how these eight practices can help you succeed at recognizing employees.

1. Give timely praise

It’s essential that you don’t procrastinate when it comes to praising a job well done. Recognize accomplishments in the moment with verbal praise, then follow up later with an award or gift if the accomplishment merits it. Giving timely praise lets everyone in your organization know that you’re paying attention to their contributions.

2. Give public praise

Even reserved employees love having bragging rights. That’s why it’s essential to praise strong performance in public. Your employees want to be seen as productive, important team members by their peers. Your employees also want to see their peers being praised for excelling at their jobs. It lets them know that they can earn praise too.

3. Contextualize praise

Make sure that employees always know exactly why you’re praising them. By tying recognition to organization or project goals, you send a clear message about the behaviors that you prize to all of your employees. Putting praise in context is also a great way to affirm and award those team members who really get your organization’s mission.

4. Keep a recognition record

Make sure that you keep a log of employee recognition that you can refer to during performance reviews. Remind employees of their achievements and help them set goals for future success. If you award employees once and never mention their accomplishments again, they’re likely to feel that you don’t really appreciate them.

5. Make it appropriate

Always think of scale when you’re recognizing employees. It would be silly to give a kid an A+ just for turning a book report in on time, so why would you give an employee a special award for doing something ordinary? It’s great to offer verbal praise to good employees, but you should make sure that more significant awards are always tied to more significant accomplishments.

6. Let employees know they’re worth more than money

Recognition is often tied to monetary awards. We all know, though, that money isn’t everything. The maxim is certainly true for employees. Your organization’s biggest achievers want to know that you value their unique contributions. They crave awards that are specific to who they are and what they’ve done. Make sure that you’re awarding your employees in a way that reinforces their true value.

7. Give your time

As the leader of a successful organization, your experience and outlook are valuable to your employees. When you’re giving an award or hosting a recognition program, make sure that you’re offering your time to employees. Talk with your organization’s highest achievers, learn about their goals and offer your perspective on their work.

8. Make it authentic

You can say all the great things you can dream of to your employees, but praise is meaningless if it lacks authenticity. When it comes to recognizing employees, you have to mean it. Take time to think about the accomplishments that you’re recognizing and identify why they’re valuable to your organization. Make sure that your employees know that you’re behind every award you give.

A great employee recognition program doesn’t have to take a lot of time to administer if you set it up right in the first place. Identify behaviors you want to award, and be sure to tie them to company goals. Then, opt for incentives and custom awards that your organization’s key members will love.