With the holiday season soon upon us, most companies will take the time to thank employees for their hard work over the past year. This might come in the form of an awards banquet or a department- or companywide holiday celebration.
The problem with that is that group awards don't have the biggest impact on employees. The most valued and remembered kind of recognition is individualized and personal. So take time to add a personal touch in thanking your employees as the year draws to a close. A personal note to each employee who directly reports to you, thanking him or her for specific contributions over the past year, would go even further.
I once did this for a group of 17 employees. It took me about an hour and a half to draft the notes, and it gave me a chance to reflect on all the achievements members of my team had made. To me, it was a simple, practical way to acknowledge their efforts, but to most of them it was much more. Two of my employees were so touched by the gesture that they cried.
Better yet, try working sincere thanks into every day. Make it a habit to greet people as if you had all the time in the world for them, even if this takes only a couple of minutes. When you walk into your office in the morning, think of it as stepping onto a stage, with the audience being those individuals who work for you. Direct eye contact and a simple smile go a long way to communicate to others that they are important to you, as does asking “How are things going?” and listening to the response.
When someone leaves the office at the end of the day, say goodbye and thank him for his effort that day. When I've asked employees about the great managers they had worked for during the course of their careers, more than one person has told me how such a manager would thank them for being there every day before they went home. A simple courtesy, yes, but one that employees noted and valued.
Doing something spectacular for your group once a year will get attention, and it might even make people feel special during that time. But the most powerful recognition is still the simple expression of day-to-day thanks. Remember, the small things can make a big difference over time with those people who play a big role in your success.