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Recognize The Unsung Heroes

Updated: Oct 14, 2020

Some workers come to work every single day, sick or not, and do their job well with little or no direction. They do not complain and involve themselves in office politics. They are the backbone of your operation and do not distract you from doing your job. Be careful not to get caught up in day-to-day affairs and fail to recognize the great things they bring to the workplace. A simple “thank you” or “great job today” shows your appreciation while offering positive reinforcement. The best praise is specific and tied to performance, such as, “Joan, great job keeping the machine loaded today. You kept idle time under five minutes and also had a throughput of more than 40,000 pieces per hour.”

Explore what incentives and disincentives exist in the workplace. Once you know them, do everything within your power to remove disincentives that create workplace problems. Likewise, use what incentives you can to reward the workers that emulate the behaviors you want to encourage (excellent attendance, cooperative, good productivity, adaptable, etc.). You must award your best and discipline your worst generally to push things to new levels of efficiency. Without proper acknowledgement of both ends of the spectrum, you face mediocrity.

Use awards and recognition that are available to show your appreciation for their extra efforts. Check with employees before presenting them with anything. Many employees prefer to avoid the spotlight and take their award in private. You do not want an incentive to become a negative experience for the person you are honoring. In fact, it is best to present all awards in private so you do not upset other employees that feel they should be getting one too.

A simple “letter of commendation” signed by you and placed in the employees’ official personnel folder carries a lot of weight. No money has to be included, yet the employee receives recognition for their efforts.

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Use caution when giving out awards. If they are outstanding workers, but do not have a good attendance record, don’t give them an award. Let them know that you wanted to give them an award, but they lacked the required attendance record. Think of the message you would be sending if you rewarded an excellent worker who called in sick at least once a week. Supervisors must strive for employees with excellent attendance records and work habits, not just one or the other. Think of it yet another way…What kind of productivity can they have when they aren’t there?

I worked at a plant where awards went to workers with dismal attendance records. This sent an unwanted message to the rest of the employees.

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Training is a powerful motivator because it shows that you’re willing to invest money and time in a valued asset, them. Training that is overly redundant, non-challenging, or deemed useless is de-motivating, demeaning, and a waste of company resources. Training costs can include travel, missed opportunity costs, hotel, meals, and compensation (salaries).

People remember only 20% of what they hear. Studies have also indicated that if there is no coaching or follow up by the immediate supervisor or opportunity for skill practice within 30 days; employees forget 80% of what they've learned. The bottom line is that your people will retain only 4% (20% x 20) of what they learn. If your training department can't demonstrate its value in bottom line terms, you'll be open to cutbacks and downsizing in a turbulent economy.

Training is intended to improve performance and prepare employees for upward mobility. Training may reduce employee turnover, improve morale, while increasing job satisfaction and motivation.

Avoid training the same thing repeatedly because people naturally bore and gain nothing from it. Don’t waste resources on training when there are no benefits.


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1 Corinthians 3:14-15 - - 14 If what he has build survives, he will receive his reward. 15If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.

What rewards and losses will there be? (3:14-15) - - Paul never spells this out. In a general sense, these rewards and losses relate to our obedience. The right we do will endure and bring reward; our wrongs will be destroyed and will demand accountability (see 2 Cor. 5:10).

2 Corinthians 5:10 - - For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

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