They wait. As team members, they wait for their CEO or manager to recognize the work they have done, with hopes of a raise or recognition at year-end. If they're lucky, they get a mid-year performance check-in.
The employee looks forward to it. For the manager, it can be a lot of work. But it's valuable work, necessary work, and more of a priority than you as a manager might think.
Good managers use it to celebrate others' talents first, before going into areas of growth. Yet it can't be the only time of the year.
Here's the key: Each week, you can reward your employees, even if it's not with a reward or promotion, if you commit yourself to it. Here are some free and effective ways to do it:
1. Let go of small mistakes. If there was a miscommunication or simple mistake, let it go immediately. Do it verbally in front of the team. Tell the team member "Don't worry about it" in a trust-filled voice, and move on. They will feel relieved and never operate in fear of you. They never should. You might provide constructive feedback, but not incessant, picky feedback that can instill fear.
2. Thank them in a meeting. Public recognition builds self-esteem and team esteem. Others will appreciate that their colleague is recognized. It will also instill hope that they, too, will be acknowledged outside of the review process.
3. Remember unscheduled thank-yous. Thank them in the kitchen, on the way to lunch, walking on a way to a meeting. Informal conversations mean equally as much. They aren't scheduled, and they are genuine. The team member feels you care personally.
4. Mention a positive action via group email or social network. If someone does something positive, send it out as a great "best practice" for the rest of the team. I know you're busy; it takes a half minute but has the potential to instill 10 years of positive regard. It makes a "respectful deposit" in their bank account of trust in you.
5. Move into the center of the conversation. If you have a private office, step out, take an empty seat and sit with your employees for the day. They will know you value being in their presence. Mark Zuckerberg does this, and he has a 97% approval rating from his employees, who think he’s leading Facebook in the right direction. They hear him, are inspired by him, and are connected with him.
During these tight times, we don't always have funds, titles, or time to formally promote deserving employees. But by following the above steps, your employees are uplifted and encouraged.
[Image: Flickr user Buhler's World]