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Motivation Through Job Recognition

© December 2004 Claudia Garcez

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Motivation Through Job Recognition

Claudia Garcez, Consultora de RH

MHR 500-1 Claudia Garcez

Motivation Through Recognition

One of the most important requirements of a leader is the need to motivate employees to be more productive and help them achieve their goals. Motivation is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as "A motivating force, stimulus, or influence: incentive, drive" (759). Leaders should always be mindful that motivation is considered the key to increasing job productivity and consequently profitability. Although, there are many different theories explaining motivation, the central question is, what specifically can be done to motivate employees to work harder and perform at their highest level? There are two main ways which leaders can motivate their workers.

The first and probably the best way to motivate your workers is through positive reinforcement. As a leader, you should always praise good performance. It is extremely important for your employees to feel they are doing a good job. Recognition is the way to get your employees to perform at highest level. Employees are willing to do whatever it takes to perform their best, as long as they feel their work is appreciated. I learned this first hand a month ago during my internship when I experienced for the first time formal recognition of an "employee of the month". In this specific department, nobody knew what was about to occur, except the manager who nominated the employee. When the events team arrived at the department with balloons, flowers, candies, and singing: "You are the best," no one knew exactly who would be the chosen person. As I scanned the group, I saw the girl trying to control her emotions. Everybody took pictures, and she received movie tickets, candies, and a gift certificate performing beyond expectation. This showed me that it is crucial for employers to recognize employees exemplary performance and honor their significant role in the operational and financial success of their respective departments.

Contrastly, a second way to motivate employees is through negative means. Employees feel pressured to perform their best to achieve the company's goals. However, if the company's goals are not achieved, employees can get fired or lose their positions. Considering that many workers don't have the luxury to be unemployed, they struggle with the method of learning to increase their productivity. Unfortunately, this approach often destroys employees' morale. It is inevitable that the point is reached where workers can't help but feel threatened of being fired, layed off, or demoted. If you are the type of leader who chooses to motivate your workers by fear, keep in mind that such a strategy can lower productivity and job satisfaction, particularly in the long term.

The purpose of recognizing employee performance is not only to motivate them to be more productive and feel satisfied with their jobs, but ultimately to retain their talent and contribution to the success of your organization. If you are a leader who is thinking about developing a recognition program, I have some suggestions on how to do it. First, you can start saying thank you, which can be in a formal or informal way. If you choose to thank your employee formally, you can write the employee a letter stating how much you appreciate the worker effort and dedication to the company. However, if you choose to thank your worker informally, then a verbal thank you can let the employee know much you appreciate their work.

Second, you can develop a recognition program for key players of the month. Such programs should be applied throughout the entire organization. You should start with a letter to the departments stating the need to recognize workers who play a significant role in the company's success. This letter should explain who is eligible to be key players. Of course, those nominated for key players are the employees who go above and beyond their everyday responsibilities. Beside the selection of who will be nominated, the letter should explain how many employees in the entire organization would be nominated. This will be up to your company to decide. For instance, if your company has 10 different departments, you could consider nominating the five best key players in the entire organization. First, each department will have to nominate the best performer and explain the reason why they nominated the person. In the end, you will have 10 people nominated. After collecting all this information, you should email or send it to the VPs or directors to decide who should be the top five best performers of the month.

Once you identified the top five key players, you need to start the preparation for the event. It needs to be decided what should be given to these people to show them they are important to your organization. One idea is to make this occasion a special event for the best performers. You can do this by giving them movie tickets, candies, gift certificates, or/and a certificate for the key player of the month with a nice folder. Then you should decide where you should have this celebration. You could do this at the persons own department. A surprise celebration works well and nobody should know about it, expect the manager. The event team and some of the HR personnel should come at a certain time with balloons, singing something like, "you are the best, you are committed." Then you point to the person who has been nominated. Don't forget to take pictures and make the event unforgettable for the employee. As a leader, you should always find a creative way to praise your best performers. Never forget that they are the key for your company's success.


Economic added value concept and the evaluation of productivity. Employee Motivation, the organizational environment and productivity. Available at: Supervisor's guide to motivation
The CTDP Management Guide - Motivation. Available at: Motivation
Motivation. Available at: this link
Orange Lake Resort & Country Club. Orange Lake
Mish, F. C. 1993. Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, 10th Edition. Merriam-Webster, Incorporated, Massachusetts (759 pp).

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More Articles by © Claudia Garcez

---December 2, 2004

I think it is sad that managers need to be told this. Any human being who is paying attention to the world ought to know this without being told. Too few do.


Consider that motivation by fear worked for Adolph Hitler and Josef Stalin. On the other hand, motivation by positive reinforcement got excellent results for George Washington. I guess that to some extent, which method works depends on what you want to achieve. <Smile>


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