How to Treat your People Well

AKA Reward and Recognition

Throughout my career I have been very fortunate to have good managers. Strong leaders with an ability to get people on board and working to their maximum potential.

When I reflect over what strategies these managers used to keep people motivated, a common denominator was the ability to make people feel special and valued. Often too, the gestures were small and low-cost yet resulted in their team feeling a sense of recognition and reward. Here are some of the methods they used:

HR Director – University

Every Christmas our HR Director would write a letter within a large Christmas card to each member of the HR Department (over 30 of us!). The letter was quite long and thoughtfully written. He would comment on very specific achievements plus unique personality attributes, which had the effect of making us realise that he noticed each and every one of us. This made us feel valued (I still have my copies of these Christmas cards).

Health & Safety Manager – University

Despite the intense nature of her role, this manager had a very nurturing nature and cared about the details of our lives. She would ask after our families, celebrate our personal successes and provide support during hard times. She made it okay for family to come first (as it should). She would also write a thank you letter to each of her team members at the end of the year.

Managing Director – Retail Company

This manager would spontaneously swoop in with a large order of pizza for the whole of Support office to share. He never scheduled these pizza events, so we never knew when it was coming. Providing treat food is such a simple measure, and even grown-ups get terribly excited when free pizza is presented to them as a surprise!

Group HR Manager – Retail Company

Our Group HR Manager set all of her team up for success by allowing autonomy and trusting us to get the job done. At times she would assign tasks that were more than we ever thought ourselves capable of achieving. She would support us for the duration, and then upon completion praise us extravagantly in front of senior management. This created an environment of super stars.

Branch Manager – Retail Company

This manager had a wonderful habit of impromptu morning tea shouts. She would pop out to the bakery nearby and buy each team member their most favourite slice. Inexpensive yet meaningful as it had the effect of personalising the gesture. This resulted in us feeling valued and cared for. She also took a strong interest in our family lives.

Chief Technology Officer – Software Development Company

This manager had a similar strategy deployed by the Group HR Manager in creating an environment of high-performers (see above). He also noticed the accomplishments of his team, and would acknowledge and record the successes that may have otherwise fallen under the radar. Plus he would bring in baking!

I hope that the above provides you with some ideas of ways to help your team feel valued and special. The measures are often small, are inexpensive and at times subtle, but have a powerful effect on the motivation levels of your team. Reward and Recognition doesn’t have to be overly complicated 🙂

2 thoughts on “How to Treat your People Well

  1. Interesting post, especially about the food and rewards! I study communication and work as a web designer, but I’ve never thought of food or other forms of material rewards until now. I think it has the same effect as listening or paying attention to one’s colleagues; it makes them feel noticed and that the manager has their interests in mind too.

    It seems like you’ve had some great colleagues at work. Do you have any suggestions what employees can do you make their managers and co-workers feel valued and recognised?

    • Thank you for your comment Jo! You are so right that listening is a powerful way to show people around us that we value what they have to say. Thoughtful attention works wonders!
      I have been very fortunate to have the managers that I have had across my career (managers are key to the successful development of their people). I think that employees can return the favour to their managers using many of the same methods.
      The reality for managers who have risen to the upper levels in an organisation is that 1on1 time, coaching, encouragement and support for them as managers is often lacking. They are perceived as being beyond needing this. However, no matter a person’s role, be they the CEO or Managing Director, they too have a basic human need for all of these things! As an example, often during 1on1’s with my current manager I will turn it around and ask him how things are in his world, instead of solely focusing just on what is happening with me. I am sure that he appreciates this. And it encourages real and upfront conversation.
      So I recommend giving back to your manager what you would ideally like to receive! Encourage them when you genuinely believe they did a good job with a particular project; bring in some baking that you know they will like; ask them how the kids are doing etc etc. Keep it real 🙂

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