Monday, March 19, 2007

March 19 – Employee Recognition

After growing up about south of Buffalo, spending eight winters in Cleveland and one in Syracuse, I know what winter is like. It makes you appreciate spring more. You can tell spring is coming because crocuses and daffodils begin pushing up through the snow. It is a refreshing sight after several bleak months. Like those flowers, there are signs that herald improvements in the job market. One of those indications is that companies start taking about Employee Recognition. When resources start disappearing to other companies, employers start appreciating those that are left.

There are many forms of recognition for both individuals and teams. Here are a couple of ideas.

Public recognition. Stand them up in front of the team and give out awards. It may be as a paper certificate or a medal of honor. The idea is to let them know that you like what they did. Assuming the rewards are administered fairly, recognizing high achievers can also encourage the rest of the team to better performance.

Cash. Few people are beyond enjoying a little extra spending money.

More interesting assignments. Good resources should get the opportunity to work on better projects. If they are stuck doing the grunt work all the time they will eventually get burnt out and stop producing.

Lunch. I’m a big fan of celebrating project completions. Lunch at a decent restaurant or even catering it in to a conference room is a great way to show the team you appreciate them.

Upper Management Accolades. Projects are started with a purpose in mind. Assuming anyone remembers what that was for your project, let upper management know that you accomplished it. Help them see the significance of it and allow them the opportunity to give kudos to the team.

Compared to hiring new people and bringing them up to speed, recognition is really inexpensive. I have a friend who applies this concept to his marriage. He claims it is “cheaper to keeper her.” Considering most divorces end with the lawyers getting everything, he’s probably right.

As a project manager it is your responsibility to take care of your team. Find out what opportunities exist within your company to recognize your team members. Fill out the necessary forms and get the business to admit nice things about them. If there aren’t any recognition programs, work with your HR team to develop some of the ideas listed above or make up your own.

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