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4 secrets to recognizing and rewarding great employees

4 secrets to recognizing and rewarding great employees Joe Staples

Recognizing your employees for their great work is an extremely important -- although often overlooked -- role of managers and executives. With today's uber-fast pace of business, things sometimes move so quickly that we often miss valuable opportunities to reward employees before moving on to the next thing.

Yet, numerous studies show the importance of recognizing team and team members' accomplishments, including the fact that having a robust recognition program can help to attract and retain top talent. It also helps tremendously to maximize engagement and job satisfaction, with opportunities for recognition being consistently ranked as one of the top engagement drivers.

In fact, on the opposite side of the coin, lack of feeling appreciated is often cited as the No. 1 reason most Americans leave their jobs. Sadly, as many as 65 percent of workers say they received no recognition for good work in the past year.

A big part of the problem is lack of awareness -- managers simply have a hard time knowing who is doing great work. While some accomplishments are big and obvious, consistent performance of everyday tasks often gets overshadowed by the "big wins." In some cases, the people who draw the most attention to themselves get all the glory while the behind-the-scenes team is lost in the shadows, leaving a large part of the staff feeling left out. Adding to the challenge, geographically dispersed, mobile, and telecommuting workforces also make it harder to keep track of who's doing great work -- employees don't often have an effective way to keep their bosses informed on everything they're working on.

Aside from building team-wide morale, acknowledging employees for their contributions, no matter how small, is imperative for keeping them motivated and working at their best. Some 60 percent of best-in-class organizations say employee recognition is extremely valuable in driving individual performance. The trick is to find ways that leaders and managers can stay abreast of all of these great accomplishments so that they can be recognized -- all while keeping pace with the uber-fast business environment.

Here are four ways technology can help recognize those team members who are most deserving.

Use software that provides macro- and micro-visibility into projects
Work/project management systems capture project completion timeframes, collaboration input, etc., for a more detailed perspective beyond just verifying whether the project was delivered on time and on budget. By periodically examining the current status and historical project/assignment completion records of team members through the tracking system, managers can easily see who consistently performs or outperforms.

Integrate social elements to enable peer recognition
Peer-to-peer recognition is extremely valuable -- people like to be viewed as successful among their cohorts. But it's not just about individual achievement. This also translates into company success: one study found that peer recognition is 35.7 percent more likely to have a positive impact on financial results than manager-only recognition. By using work management tools that enable social-style collaboration, or adding a social intranet, employees can share ideas and give each other virtual pats on the back, all within the context of work. And, others in the company can see their accolades, too, adding to the publicity factor for their recognition.

Look beyond the P.T. Barnums of the office
Some employees are naturally strong self-promoters, making sure that everyone recognizes their contributions to the work being done. Others just keep their heads down and turn out great work without really drawing attention to themselves. No matter which group they belong to, the key to identifying top-performers lies in tracking all team members' work consistently, what they produce, whether it's done on time or not, etc. The operative word here is "consistently." You can use a spreadsheet to do this, if you're on a budget, or a work management solution, but consistency in tracking and rewarding is absolutely essential.

Streamline work processes
Improving systems and processes to reduce the friction and frustration involved in getting work done can significantly improve employee engagement, energy, and excitement -- all of which lead to much higher performance. In other words, if your antiquated, cumbersome systems are holding employees back from doing their best work, it's time for an upgrade. Organizations that marry a recognition program with effective employee engagement have 31 percent lower voluntary turnover. That means that if you're making it harder than it needs to be for employees to do their work, you could be practically showing them the door.

The secret is there's really no secret

Recognizing employees for a job well done is one of the most important jobs of any leader. But, too often the little things go unnoticed or get overshadowed by achievements with the biggest wow-factor. By using technology to provide visibility, keep work organized, track assignments and task progress, keep tasks on time and projects on budget, organizational leaders can actually gain tremendous insight into the work that's going on behind the scenes. With this perspective, it's easier to see who the real rock stars of the organization are when it comes to getting the work done. Even better, once you're ready to celebrate team accomplishments in a big way, you can use that same work management system to manage the most important project of all: the celebration party!

Joe Staples is chief marketing officer at Workfront.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia at @iMediaTweet.

As Chief Marketing Officer for Workfront (formerly AtTask), Joe leads a best-in-class marketing organization focused on building the Workfront brand and driving awareness, thought-leadership, and demand generation. ...

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