Randy Dorr, a former supervisor at MCI, energized his team of 18 telemarketers in the most unusual way that we've ever heard of. On the spur of the moment, he told the members of the group that if they got to be number one, "I'd call their mothers and tell them how great they were."

He wasn't sure, he says, how the idea popped into his head. It came to him one day after he had promised his boss that he would transform this group, the worst-performing sales group at the time, into the best. "I had nicknamed them the 'F-Troop'," he says. "I told my manager that in three months, I'd make them the best-performing group. He thought I was crazy."

"Hello, Is Mom There?" When the individuals met their performance goals, he did just as he had promised he would and asked each of them for their moms' telephone numbers.

"I couldn't have predicted the impact of doing this," says Dorr. "Some moms cried, while others were excited. All of them were proud. I'm sure that as soon as we hung up, each one immediately called her son or daughter to tell him or her she had just spoken to their boss. Each employee came to work the next day feeling and acting like a champion. We reached our goal of becoming number one in the company, and for many of the employees, it was the start of new levels of performance and better things to come."

You Can Get Results Most managers focus on what they can't do, not on what they can. The simplest challenges stop them cold. They bemoan circumstances they say they "can't possibly alter" and, in the process, let themselves off the hook. They never take responsibility when things aren't going well. Like Randy, they should.

Managers who tell me that they don't have the resources to motivate their employees are choosing to ignore the many simple, daily opportunities they have to recognize people. A sincere and timely "thank you" in person, in public, or through a written note is an invaluable tool for motivating employees.The manager who looks after his or her employees' best interests and who makes an effort to be positive, inspiring, and supportive every day will get results.

Randy tried something different. He came up with an offbeat idea that worked, and he made it happen. And so did his telemarketing team.

1. Opportunities for recognition present themselves every day--Find ways to acknowledge those who are doing great work, and you'll make the workplace more fun and exciting.

2. Involve your employees in deciding what you might do differently--Ask them how they would like to be recognized. They know best what they would respond to.

3. Try something new--At all costs, avoid running the same programs year after year.