If you’re in a supervisory position, don’t wait until it’s time for a formal review to dish out the positive words. Six guidelines for effective praising, from Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees:
1. Make it soon. The best recognition is given as soon as possible after the good performance.
Example: When an HP software engineer told his supervisor that he fixed a software bug, the supervisor grabbed a banana from his lunch and gave it to the employee with a big thank you. That created HP’s Golden Banana award.
2. Make it sincere. Stop guessing at what rewards people want.
Example: Medtronic Corp. gives days off for their years-of-service awards, because the company finally asked employees what they wanted.
3. Make it specific. Relate the gift to the performance being rewarded.
Example: Apple Computers printed different company core values on T-shirts (Integrity, etc.) and gave them to employees who demonstrated those values.
4. Make it personal.
Example: One bank asks new hires on their first day to write on an index card the three things that motivate them (time off, lunch with the boss, Starbucks coffee, etc.). Supervisors can mold rewards around those wants.
5. Make it positive and public.
6. Make it proactive. One tactic: Managers can put the name of every staff member on their weekly to-do list. Then, managers can cross off each name as they dole out praise that week.