Tips for effective employee recognition

A lot has been written on employee recognition programmes. How organisations should implement them depends on your company needs. Efforts should also be made to try and understand what motivates your team. When employee recognition systems are used correctly, they reinforce and enrich organisation culture. It then follows that effective recognition systems make employees engaged.

People cherish the idea of being needed. Think of the times you have stopped to ask directions. A person may even repeat the directions a couple of times to make sure you get it. We all like to be experts even if it’s for a moment. Being recognised gives one a sense of superiority and accomplishment which translates into a sense of self-worth. For leadership, it is not a sign of weakness to let others know you value them. It is actually a sign of security and strength. If anything, when people feel needed, they are far more productive and creative.

Practically effective recognition systems involve promoting high performance, improvements, availing opportunities and giving guidance. Employees operating in this environment are known for:

  • Making things happen
  • Seeing and seizing opportunities
  • Influencing the opinions and actions of others
  • Adding value to leadership
  • Drawing winners to them
  • Equipping others to excel
  • Providing ideas to help an organisation
  • Living up to their commitment and showing loyalty to the organisation and the leadership

Consequently, when a manager has searched and found these employees, there is need to use either of the many effective recognition systems to appreciate their achievements. These include:

  1. Making use of momentos

This is a tangible remembrance of something good one did. Trophies, awards and even handwritten letters can be given to employees. Employees appreciate these not because they have any material value but because they remind them of the good they did. It is a way of relieving that memory. If such recognition is to be effective, do it in front of other people as well as one on one. This is a more effective way of appreciating someone’s effort because a private compliment turned public can instantly and dramatically increase in value. Written letters have a personal touch. They also represent an investment from the writer and tend to be quite powerful.

  1. Encouragement

This in a way recognises the potential in employees. This is very practical because employees are in need of a good word, an uplifting compliment to fire their hopes and dreams. Managers, be brilliant conversationalist who are always encouraging employees to achieve their goals.

Say the right words at the right time. There is need to be careful when dealing with people to say the rights words at the right time because wrong words said at the wrong time discourage people. Equally wrong words said at the right time frustrate someone and right words said at the wrong time confuse someone. But saying something right at the right time encourages that person. Whenever you do this be mindful that people can tell the difference between hollow words and something said from the heart.

Listening is an integral part of encouraging employees. Just being an effective listener bears a lot of impact. Peter Drucker once said, 'The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said.” Leaders leave a mark in an individual’s soul when they are emphatic. It is indeed an effective employee appreciation system to always focus on the individual not just the ideas being expressed. As you converse with the employee make it a point that you listen to understand and not to reply. When communicating the key between being the parties involved is to establish some common ground so that you can connect with each other. It is through listening that you will get to know about challenges that may hinder good performance. It also good practice to ask employees for the possible solutions. Strong teams are built in the process making the work environment more enjoyable.

Managers should make use of words like “I wish you believed in yourself as much as I believe in you.” This may be the first time such words are said to an employee, imagine the amount of inspiration! By doing so you will be helping them to pursue their dreams. As a manager you can never go wrong by encouraging the dreams of others.

There are other various ways to reward employees and these include monetary pay outs, functions, promotions etc. When a leader embraces such practically simple approaches not only will they be heading for their greatness but also will be winning the people’s hearts. Living such simple charismas will make employees engaged, bringing respect, achievement and success along with it.

Emmanuel Jinda is the Managing Consultant of PROSERVE Consulting Group, a leading supplier of Professional Human Resources and Management services locally, regionally and internationally. He can be contacted at Tel: 263 773004143 or 263 242 772778 or visit our website at