People are the lifeblood of any business organization. It’s safe to say that a company would not reach its full potential without its people.

Naturally, one of the major goals of the leadership team is to motivate their best people to stay. And there are a lot of factors that make professionals want to stay with their employer for the long term.

We’ve compiled them in this handy guide over the past several weeks, and this article rounds out that set.


Step 1: Praise them for great work.

If we were to really think about it, giving praise is one of the most natural and simple reactions to excellence. It’s logical, easy to understand, and you don’t need to make up any weird justifications for it. Best of all, when properly used it’s essentially harmless to anyone. Complimenting someone for a job well done is one of the most positive and uplifting things you can do at the workplace.

So be generous with giving praise. It costs nothing but words and good intentions, after all. Set aside any concerns regarding others accusing you of favoritism, or the praised employee becoming arrogant. As with anything done in moderation, there are measures you can take to ensure that your compliments will not be taken the wrong way.

Always base your compliments on solid evidence and actual accomplishments. And in that context, avoid praising anyone just for the sake of showing that the company recognizes good work. Ensure that the candidate has legitimately performed outstandingly so that the recognition has real meaning, and to avoid unrealistic expectations of the criteria for recognition.

Step 2: Ascribe value to their accomplishments.

Part of recognition is stating what the importance of an accomplishment is. First, it reinforces what the organization’s priorities are. An accomplishment is always an outcome that furthers the company’s goals directly or indirectly. You can show everyone that their accomplishments have immense value in terms of helping the organization achieve its goals.

Second, it makes your recognition strategy easier to justify. You’re basically setting the bar that everyone else has to reach. When everyone knows what the targets are, it’s easier to qualify who deserves praise and who has to put in a little more effort to be recognized. You’ll have solid evidence as an answer for anyone who has doubts about their coworkers deserving recognition.

Third, you’ll be able to justify incentives to top management. Showing them the importance of your employees’ contributions will make it easier to convince them to be generous when it comes to rewards, monetary or otherwise. Whether you’re planning a small bonus or a raise, or additional privileges for outstanding employees, you’ll have a better chance of getting it approved if the management knows it’s a reward for significant contribution.

Step 3: Credit everyone involved.

Being left out after giving 100% effort for a project is one of the most demotivating situations professionals can find themselves in. It’s not even a matter of wanting to be the center of attention; being recognized for contributing to a greater goal is a reassurance that one’s ideas and actions are not dragging anyone down and are actually propelling the organization up.

Properly cite people who have played vital roles in the accomplishment of your team’s or organization’s goals. It doesn’t have to be in front of the top leadership or during a general assembly; it can be between a superior and a subordinate. Being their leader, your recognition is what matters most to them so make sure you can give it to them when they truly deserve it.

Relevant to this, be prompt and direct when citing people for their contributions so that credit-grabbers have no opportunity to steal the recognition away. Always ask for proper feedback and reports, and again be strict when it comes to requiring proof of your employees’ accomplishments.

Step 4: Foster a culture of appreciation.

Because credit-grabbers do exist in any organization, there will be risks that your best performing employees won’t get the appreciation they deserve – whether in the form of bonuses, privileges, or higher trust in their capabilities. They can also spread the belief that recognition can be easily gained within the organization even if one doesn’t do much at all.

Thus, it will be to your benefit to create a company culture that prevents them from having these negative effects on everyone. Condition every employee at every level to appreciate not only their coworkers’ excellence, but also their own excellence. Help everyone understand that each member of the organization will have opportunities to be recognized for doing their best, and that they have no need to steal anyone’s credit.

Not only will you be able to help everyone become more professional and mature, this will also reduce internal tensions and make the organization stronger and more united. Best of all, everyone will learn to be thankful to have each other as part of the same team.

Recognition gives us a reason not only to sustain excellent behavior, but also to identify and appreciate the same excellence in our coworkers. It has to start somewhere, and where better to begin than you as a leader?

Be generous with your recognition when it’s deserved, and watch your employees grow into confident contributors fueled by that appreciation.

And as the workplace continues to evolve in this new decade, be on the watch for newly emerging ways you can show your people that they matter!

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