Q: What do you do when the organization's recognition programs reward the accomplishments of only the most visible workers (like salespeople) and people in the background feel turned off by all kinds of recognition?
A: As a leader you may not have much influence on the organizational programs that do not recognize the right things. But you can make sure that you recognize the right things in your own groups. Instead of getting caught up in trying to fix the organization, practice some of the behaviors listed in the LPI with your people. You have the ability to make your people feel very special—including those steady, solid people behind the scenes.
Take time each day to think about who you might want to recognize, how to recognize them in a way that's important to them, and when and/or where to recognize them. In addition to your direct reports or teammates, what about encouraging your boss or others up the senior management ladder? What might be some appropriate ways to do that? And what might the benefits be?
Showing appreciation and celebrating values and victories creates a spirit of community. It's important to remember that the practice Encourage the Heart is all about recognizing both individuals and the team as part of that community. And there are virtually unlimited ways to demonstrate that you appreciate everyone's contributions and accomplishments. Make it real. Make it timely. Make it meaningful. And never underestimate the power of a genuine and heartfelt "thank you."
Terri Armstrong Welch is an independent writer and editor contributing to the marketing and editorial programs at Pfeiffer, including The Leadership Challenge product line. A former member of the Jossey-Bass team, she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at http://yourrockstarwriter.wordpress.com.