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Recognition Reaps Rewards

The traditional controlling leadership of the past is no longer useful for today's managers. A "coach and cheerlead" model is more appropriate, encouraging individuals to reach their potential using their own skills and strengths.

Bob Nelson, motivational guru and author of the best-selling 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (Workman Publishing, 2005) points out that managers today need to establish a supportive work environment that not only helps the organization succeed, but also encourages employees to pursue their own personal goals. Recognition and rewards are critical to creating that environment.

"In today's business environment what used to be common courtesies have been overcome by speed and technology," he says. "Managers tend to be too busy and too removed from their employees to notice when they have done exceptional work – and to thank them for it. Technology has replaced personal interaction with one's manager with constant interfacing with one's terminal. The more our work environments become highly technical, the greater the employee need has become to be more personal and human. And all this is happening at a time in which employees are looking to have greater meaning in their lives – and especially in their jobs."

Nelson points out that one of the great ironies regarding employee motivation is that what produces the greatest results often takes the least effort. Personal congratulations from managers are consistently rated the most effective incentive option in employee surveys. A close second is typically a personal note of appreciation from a manager or senior-level executive. These types of instant recognition, along with other small awards, can speak volumes to recipients.

Employees that feel appreciated are happy and engaged - a priceless commodity in any business, but especially in the current fluctuating economy. Frequent, timely recognition doesn't take a lot of time or money, and the rewards to your organization far outweigh the minor expenditures made.

– Adapted from "Turn On the Recognition," Selling Power Newsletter, www.sellingpower.com