As Napoleon said, “No amount of money will induce someone to lay down their life, but they will gladly do so for a bit of yellow ribbon.” Said another way, countless studies have proven that people work harder for recognition than they do for money. While the money is important and your people must be fairly compensated, it’s all about the recognition.
I must confess this is a weakness of mine and something I have always struggled with, even knowing the power. I know I’m not alone. One leader actually said to me, “I give them a check. Isn’t that enough recognition?” (The 1960s called; they want their leader back. That might have been enough back then. But not anymore. Here’s a great scene when Don Draper of Mad Men shouted “That’s what the money is for!” at a recognition-craving employee.)
If praise is something you are not good at, here are two ideas to get you good at it:
- Put a monthly recurring reminder in your calendar to say “thank you” (it’s crazy, but it works).
- Get the book 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (this will give you unlimited ideas for how to pat people on the back).
Consider this: Providing this positive recognition just might retain one of your people or encourage them to go that extra mile for you. Please go say thank you to one of your people right now. Do it before you read your next email. And—oh yeah—you must mean it. It needs to be genuine.