Things are pretty tough out there, whether you are leading a nonprofit or a for-profit business. And, it is important to recognize that our employees are working hard to do the most, and their absolute best,  with the very least. The pressure on them is enormous. And, not too far in the back of their minds is the eve-present fear of being let go.

It is pretty obvious, but still bears mentioning, how important it is to recognize and celebrate your employees’ desired behavior whenever you see it demonstrated, and then, to reward it appropriately and publicly. The rewards don’t have to be expensive, but they do need to be public, timely, and delivered with heartfelt appreciation. Small gifts can still be a “WOW” in the eyes of your employees. Sometimes it takes a lot of extra work and critical thinking by an employee to deliver high value to a client or discover a new competitive advantage for the firm.  Unless reinforced, employee motivation to demonstrate those desired behaviors may erode and your employees may regress to just putting in time. These desirable behaviors  probably will not automatically happen, and they certainly won’t repeat themselves unless employees know just how critical customer focus really is to the organization’s success. Too much reinforcement is probably better than too little. We used several tools to thank employees. Among them:

  • small yet meaningful “spot bonuses”,
  • special dinners, with spouse, at upscale restaurants
  • public recognition at regular staff or special meetings
  • and of course, salary increases

What types of recognition would work in your organization?