I was delighted when I received word that MM's former Executive Editor Sue Pelletier and I had been selected to receive 2007 Alliance for CME President's Awards. I felt re-energized; and my commitment to the CME enterprise became even stronger.

I also reflected on the role recognition plays in encouraging people to achieve. As many of you have pointed out, the new Accreditation Council for CME criteria require providers to take more leadership in the wider healthcare system, assume greater responsibility for improving physician behavior and patient care, and develop partnerships with other sectors in the medical community. To achieve these goals, you'll need to create a work environment that rewards staff members for their initiative and creativity. It's a good time to stop and think about how to inspire your team.

Motivation experts stress that it's important to find out what rewards your employees value. Just as you customize CME activities to match physician learning preferences, so you can tailor employee rewards to suit their individual needs. In February, Maritz Inc., a performance-improvement company, released the results of an online poll of randomly selected full-time employees throughout the country, which showed that in terms of reward preferences there are six employee types. While I cringe at categorizing people, I do think the results are useful. (For more information, visit meetingsnet.com and click on In the News.)

One category, Freedom Yearners, desire personally meaningful work and the freedom to choose interesting projects. Sounds like they may be inspired by the new criteria's focus on patient safety and eager to take on responsibilities in that area. To keep these people happy, allow them flexibility and keep management off their backs. Another type of employee, Upward Movers, jumps at the chance to work with people outside their own area. Consider putting your Upward Mover in charge of forging the collaborations with other departments or organizations that are required to achieve accreditation with commendation.

The Maritz poll shows that you don't necessarily need a big budget to acknowledge people's achievements. While some people prefer receiving gift cards or travel awards, others value the opportunity to attend professional conferences, are gratified by mentoring colleagues, or crave incentives that give them more personal time, such as days off, flexible scheduling, and dinners out with family.

Even if you don't have the resources or authority to motivate people with flexible time or cash awards, you can help your staff feel appreciated. While the Maritz poll found that only 16 percent of respondents place the greatest value on receiving praise, in my experience, almost everybody appreciates recognition for a job well done. It doesn't have to be a formal awards program like the Alliance's. A conversation, e-mail, or handwritten card thanking someone for their efforts — as long as you are specific and sincere — will lift their spirits. And don't just focus on the stars. Remember to recognize those who doggedly manage the mundane details that keep your office going. No task should be “thankless.”

In our stressful work environments, saying thank you may be the last thing on your mind, especially if you feel. But if, each day, you try doing one thing to support your colleagues, you'll reap the reward of a more motivated team and you'll lift your own spirits as well.