A company I know starts each executive reporting meeting with a "shout-out".  Whereby each exec (round the table) has to recognize a person (something above and beyond). Then in addition, that exec sends a note to the person to let them know and to also recognize them again.

Wow, so much value in so many ways associated with such a simple process. A true leader creates a work environment in which people feel important and appreciated.

How often do you read about employee survey results that stated: “the organization does not care about their employees or the organization does not appreciate what I do”. The majority of those surveys consistently ranked praise and attention from their managers as the # 1 thing that would make them feel as if the company cared about them and their well-being and result in more loyalty, enthusiasm and pride in their work.

However, I also know of companies that over do it.  You constantly here "good job".  But quickly you lose clarity on exactly what was the good job, or are they serious, or expectations of praise on any and all aspects of your job.

So can try to focus on three key things:
a) find a consistent balance (when to praise and when not)
b) understand the platform from which to present it
c) make it as formal as possible (but NOT administrative)

To elaborate on b) as per above, it highly depends on the personality of the individual and the team that is receiving the recognition.  Present it in front of peers, or the entire team, or an organizational event, etc. Maybe highlight it with a picture or a note in the news bulletin or social committee board. You need to establish the platform and at a minimum, understand how it will be accepted by the recipient and other surrounding stakeholders.

To elaborate on c) (as per above), you should at a minimum cover 3 things:
1) state what happened 
2) explain why the individual is being recognized 
3) emphasize how it impacted the project/company

Other Examples of how project managers can reinforce recognition include:
• Write a short personal note – add the small things that were noticed and personalize it with a signature and a thank you. Tie in something outside work if possible (e.g. appreciate the time spent away from family).
• Give a gift – the gift does not have to be expensive but has to be sincere. Be creative, the gifts must be balanced between individuals, groups and the entire team. Examples of types of gifts include:
  • corporate merchandise,
  • gift certificates,
  • motivational artwork,
  • home improvement items,
  • chocolate,
  • gift baskets,
  • dollar store items;
  • days off;
  • pass to leave work early;
  • flexible scheduling;
  • food (breakfast, lunch, supper, treats, donuts, ice cream, etc.);
  • catered lunches (with special themes);
  • external food (BBQ, restaurants, hotdog vendors, etc);
  • cakes for special occasions (events, birthdays, milestones, work anniversaries, holidays, etc.);
  • formal training, conferences, lunch presentations;
  • memberships (e.g. associations);
  • professional educational support (e.g. classes, certifications);
  • something for their significant other.

• Give cash or options or bonuses – ensure the focus is not the gift but the reason why the reward was given. This ensures that when the money has been spent, the employee remembers the recognition.

• Keep it simple - if you are extremely short on time, schedule reminders in your calendar to recognize a minimum of 1 person per week. This could include a simple thank you and some details of how you are aware what happened, why the individual is being recognized and how it will make an impact.