I remember one manager telling me that he once had worked for a different company, and was to receive a special award at the annual banquet.
He finished his shift earlier that evening and hurriedly drove over to the hotel where the banquet was being held. By the time he arrived…the awards ceremony was nearing completion.
The president had already passed his name earlier, and thus ignored his presence because he didn’t want to slow the evening agenda. This employee felt invalidated and hurt…And rightfully so.
Don’t make a similar mistake with your awards system. Make the person receiving the award feel special. People like to receive the recognition due to them; they like to feel important.
One of the best ways to get the kind of behavior you want is to outline specific criteria for
identifying outstanding job performance. Then consistently reward it when you get it. By putting together an incentive program for your employees, you are making a positive statement that you value good work.
Find out the kinds of incentives and rewards that are important to your employees and managers by asking them. You can do this in one-on-one conversations or in staff meeting. Once the program is instituted, be sure to constantly work at improving it. If the program is started and there is no follow-through, it can result in creating cynicism and resentment.
The awards don’t have to be fancy cars or elaborate trips to Hawaii. Something quite simple and inexpensive will work. It could be a dinner for two at a popular restaurant. A gift certificate to a popular retail store or a picture of the employee or manager in the monthly newsletter or on the wall in the lobby is also effective. Other ideas include a special designated parking spot for a month or a framed certificate of achievement. All awards should include a personal word of thanks from the president or owner.
The key to an effective award system is that it should be ongoing and include something that will be remembered. Sometimes, although a cash reward is appropriate, many employees and managers will end up spending the money on bills. The result? They don’t remember anything special from earning the award.
Once you’ve decided on the approach you will take, call a general meeting with all of your employees and managers. At this time, explain to them why you are instituting the incentive program and explain how it will work.
Make sure they understand the process. By encouraging questions and suggestions, you will help employees feel more comfortable with it. After one month, make any necessary adjustments. Re-evaluate it on a regular basis and constantly work on improving and refining it.
Answer the following questions to determine what and how you’ll reward your employees.
1. What type of an incentive system could you implement in your company?
2. What kind of efforts would you reward?
3. How much could you budget for this system?
4. What kind of incentives or rewards would you be able to provide to your outstanding employees?
By using a system to consistently reward your employees and manager, you will create a built-in incentive system for them to constantly strive to do the best job possible. You’ll be surprised at how much harder they work and how much their performance improves.
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