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Make Team Recognition Impactful: 14 Tips for Managers

Written by
Laura Saracho
Laura Saracho

We asked, and experts answered: What is one tip for managers to give better and more impactful recognition to their teams?

The cold hard truth is that many employees leave a job because of poor management. It's critical managers are intentional about building a healthy and productive working relationship with their direct reports. Providing frequent, specific recognition—among other tips—is important for employee morale and so much more. 

To help managers give more impactful team recognition, we asked business owners and HR professionals this question for their best tips. From knowing how your employees prefer to be recognized to creating incentives for quality work, there are several tips that may help you give better and more impactful recognition to your teams.

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14 ways to make team recognition more impactful

  1. Get to know how employees prefer to be recognized
  2. Reward teams with awesome swag
  3. Be specific about what you appreciate
  4. Implement employee ideas
  5. Set employees up with a leadership lunch
  6. Make them mentors
  7. Recognize teams through handwritten notes
  8. Don't forget frequent recognition
  9. Offer spontaneous recognition regularly
  10. Ask them for permission first
  11. Build recognition into workplace culture
  12. Take it to your socials
  13. Recognize the person, not the performance
  14. Create incentives for quality work

1. Get to know how employees prefer to be recognized

"Recognition is most impactful when a manager understands how each employee prefers to be recognized or rewarded. Giving employees a voice is the best practice for any business scenario, but it's especially true when it comes to building a strong recognition program. Every single team member has unique and varying needs, and managers should seek their feedback and preferences when planning avenues for acknowledgment. Team members with choice are happier in the workplace, and personalization is what makes for impactful recognition."

- Stephen Light, Nolah Mattress

2. Reward teams with awesome swag

"Show your appreciation with quality swag. Who doesn't love free stuff? One way for managers to impact their employees is to reward their efforts with awesome swag items. Recognize their achievements in a meeting and give your top performers swag. This will not only motivate others to do better next month but will also increase engagement among employees."

- Katie lyon, Allegiance Flag Supply

3. Be specific about what you appreciate

"The best way to give recognition to your team is to be specific about what they did that you appreciate. Rather than saying "thank you for all your hard work," try something like "thanks for staying late to help me finish this project," or "thanks for pitching in to help with the new hire process."

- Matthew Ramirez, Paraphrasing Tool

Want more? Get our ultimate retention checklist for managers

4. Implement employee ideas

"Individual team members are a great source of ideas when it comes to improving internal workflows and policies. By listening to these ideas and actually implementing them, not only do you acknowledge your employees' contributions; you also show them that you’re open to suggestions. This is an effective way to build a culture where everyone pitches in for the benefit of the entire company."

- Johannes Larsson, JohannesLarsson.com

5. Set employees up with a leadership lunch

"One way managers can give employees impactful recognition is to set them up for lunch with an executive. Recognize their outstanding work by giving them the opportunity to rub elbows with the higher-ups. Let them build their connections and have an exclusive opportunity to be mentored by high-level executives. The opportunities presented to them over one simple lunch are already a game-changing reward for employees."

- Mark Liu, iMarku

6. Make them mentors

"One of the best ways to recognize your team’s capability is to allow them to spearhead a training course for the recruits. It doesn’t have to be formal training because we have people for that job. Mentorship will enable your team to share their knowledge and experiences, allowing recruits to understand their job entitlements, and establish a sense of respect for their mentors. It is also very fulfilling and satisfying for the mentors to be a big part of their colleague’s development."

- Stephen Keighery, Home Buyer Louisiana

7. Recognize teams through handwritten notes

"Handwritten notes are an impactful way for managers to recognize the achievement of their team. It has a personal touch that conveys sincerity, which employees will appreciate more than a fancy store-bought card."

- Brogan Renshaw, Modelers Central

8. Don't forget frequent recognition

"The best way to recognize your employees is regularly; this ensures they continue to feel appreciated and engaged with the role and workplace. Though bigger acts of recognition should occur, your “micro recognition” tactics are even more essential, as they’re the day-to-day way your team hears your real-time performance feedback."

- David Aylor, David Aylor Law Offices

9. Offer spontaneous recognition regularly

"As a manager, you should include spontaneous recognition as part of your regular recognition and reward strategy. Spontaneous recognition is a great way to support and encourage individual team members when they are working on long-term projects. Moreover, this form of recognition is a powerful way of appreciating an employee's soft skills when they apply them. This not only helps boost their confidence but also encourages them to continue applying these skills when needed. Spontaneous recognition will also encourage your employees to explore their creativity and innovativeness, as well as take more initiative within and outside of their role for the benefit of the company."

- Lisa Richards, The Candida Diet

10. Ask for permission first

"There's a huge benefit in giving recognition publicly in front of the employees' colleagues. There's even more benefit in asking them for permission first: 'You did such a fantastic job with this project. Are you okay with us giving you a shout-out at the next team meeting? We'd love to explain how this is exactly the kind of work we like to see.' That anticipation builds excitement, which translates to deeper recognition."

- Jeffrey Gabriel, Saw.com

11. Build recognition into workplace culture

"To give more impactful recognition, managers should build it into workplace culture as a consistent practice. If recognition is sparse or only given for the biggest of wins, it can inadvertently build a hyper-competitive atmosphere, and one where peer-to-peer recognition never happens. Making recognition a consistent workplace staple that celebrates wins big and small is far better for building strong relationships between managers and employees, and within the entire workforce. It helps teams push each other with healthy competition rather than a toxic, disconnected competitive culture."

- Nick Drewe, Wethrift

12. Take it to your socials

"Managers can harness the power of social media to make a bigger impact with their team recognition efforts. Use your company’s LinkedIn, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to highlight employee achievements in a public setting, so you can show your team and the rest of the world how proud you are of them."

- Maria Juvakka, Chic Pursuit

13. Recognize the person, not the performance

"It is crucial as a manager to recognize your employees properly; it gives them a sense of achievement and responsibility, and makes them feel appreciated."

- Gosia Hytry, Spacelift

14. Create incentives for quality work

"Social recognition is a critical part of creating a positive workplace culture, but it must be frequent and consistent for it to be fully effective. One way to give more impactful recognition is to create more incentives for quality work."

- Michael Dean, Pool Research

Terkel creates community-driven content featuring expert insights. Sign up at terkel.io to answer questions and get published.

Looking for more ways to engage your team? Check out this resource! 👇

Employee Appreciation White Paper

 

Originally published on April 22, 2022 → Last updated May 5, 2022

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Laura Saracho

Laura is the content marketing manager at Bonusly and is passionate about employee engagement and uncovering creative, data-driven ways to drive impact. She loves writing and going on excessively long trail runs.

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