giftcardAs a leader, you are expected to look for ways to keep people moving in a positive direction.  Great managers build morale, motivation and energy even as the team ratchets up their performance under stress.  We like to say “catch people at their best.”  Each day make an effort to find someone doing something right and make sure they know it.  As you give rewards, make sure the team connects that receiving in the reward recognizes that what they do matters.

    Here are ideas for supporting people with no or little cost:

    • Talk is not only cheap – it is free.  But the right words can mean a lot. So simply telling people that you believe in them, that you support them and that you appreciate them can go a long way.  At the same time, let people know you have high expectations and keep them striving for improvement everyday.  Remember names and greet people by name when you see them.
    • Share your time.  Ask someone to lunch or coffee to listen to their ideas about how their job could be better or what they think the company needs to do next.  Really listen.  (Put down the iPhone.)
    • Have fun.  For teams that need to produce, blowing off some steam is a good way to crank up the adrenalin.  Before heading off to the sales or production floor, create a quick “Minute to Win It” challenge: Two people compete to see how many tissues they can pull out of a box, stack apples or bounce pencils on their eraser end into a cup in a minute.  With the right team dynamics, these events can breathe some fun into a stressed time.
    • If you have an onsite cafeteria, buy cards worth one free drink or a snack and hand them out to employees who are caught doing their job well.
    • Spray paint an old trophy (or make one that humorously represents your company) and make it a travelling trophy that gets passed on from winner to winner for representing great company spirit.  Ideas include pens epoxied into a pen cup and painted silver, an old telephone handset, a toy pipe wrench, a golden coffee mug or a spatula.
    • Remember families.  Buy inexpensive books at the dollar store and wrap them for employee’s children.  That can mean more than a gift for the employees themselves.  Consider writing a quick note inside the cover that says, “Your Dad (Mom) is great!  Thanks for sharing him with us.”
    • Give perks as rewards.  Let an employee start 15 minutes later than normal or give first choice in scheduling next year’s vacation.  Let the winner park in the president’s prime parking spot for a week.
    • Give movie tickets and an afternoon off to see the movie.
    • Give away car washes.
    • Give lotto tickets.
    • Say “thank you” – look them in the eye and mean it.
    • Create a contest where you do something unusual.  When the team reaches the sales goal; you will shave your head, shave your moustache, wear red fingernail polish, clean the company kitchen, unload the delivery truck, work the lunch rush, wear a sandwich board or any other unusual chore.

    At the end of the day, it isn’t so much about how you celebrate success as much as genuinely appreciating the people in your workplace.  Any silly idea can become a tradition if there is sincerity behind the message and a sense of humor – even about yourself.