Recognition strategies for leaders

Learn how to express respect and appreciation to your employees. 

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Why this matters

Expressing respect and appreciation effectively helps people feel capable, motivated and valued.

Explore and reflect

There are many ways leaders can recognize employees that don’t involve monetary or material rewards. Some of these include:

  • Giving positive and specific feedback
  • Offering praise in the moment
  • Expressing how employees have inspired you
  • Letting employees know when you’re impressed with their ideas
  • Recognizing when employees and teams are working hard
  • Commenting whenever extra effort is given
  • Showing gratitude for work accomplished
  • Encouraging creativity
  • Hosting wellness activities
  • Praising employees by mass email or newsletter
  • Leaving a handwritten thank-you note
  • Remembering to say happy birthday
  • Connecting with your team
  • Recognizing employment anniversaries
  • Recognizing non-work achievements for people who volunteer, build or create
  • Recognizing employees in the methods they prefer

Recognition doesn't need to exclusively come from leaders. These team-building activities can encourage members to recognize each other:

  • Acknowledge our accomplishments. A team building activity to help acknowledge team accomplishments. Have employees share a success for a quick sharing activity.
  • Recognize strengths. This team-building activity helps team members think about and articulate the strengths that others bring to the team. 
  • Specific active acknowledgment. This team-building activity helps us recognize how the way we respond to others in person and virtually can impact our relationships. 

Take action

Commit to recognizing at least one employee every day. Make sure to include every employee over time. Recognition should be genuine and not an exaggeration. Over time, this practice will become a habit that helps you to grow as a more motivating leader.

Workshop materials

Putting recognition and reward on the agenda: Creating awareness workshop

This workshop engages your team in a discussion about what types of recognition matter to them. These discussions will help cultivate a psychological healthy and safe workplace.

Putting recognition and reward on the agenda: Creating change workshop

This session builds on employee ideas developed in the Creating awareness workshop. The next step is to engage decision makers in reviewing employee suggestions against evidence− or practice−based approaches. The objective is to modify or create policies and procedures that improve recognition and reward for your organization.

Contributors include.articlesDr. Joti SamraMary Ann BayntonWorkplace Strategies team 2007-2021

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