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I can only imagine that there is something special about getting up on the podium and accepting a Gold Medal for your efforts on behalf of your country. The pride associated with achieving top recognition and award for successfully reaching your stated goals, and of course surpassing the competition.

As we think about the quest for Gold, let’s think about how we can inspire Gold Medal performances in our teams. For more on Rewarding and Recognizing great teams check out Bob Nelsons Book 1001 Way to Reward and Recognize.

Here are some of our favorite tips for building that capacity in your team:

“You Get What You Reward” – Be on the lookout for people doing good things. When you see people “doing good,” reward and/or appreciate them. As well, let people know well in advance what you are providing as rewards, and be sure to follow through with the reward. For example, when an employee works overtime, send a bouquet of flowers to their partner in thanks for that extra time commitment.

“Nothing is as Unfair as Equal Treatment of Unequal Performers” – Provide incentive to those who have earned it, not necessarily for everyone all the time. Base your reward on performance – not on whether that person has or has not been rewarded or recognized before.

“What Motivates People, Motivates People” – What drives people to perform is as unique as the individuals themselves. Explore what type of reward a person would like. Hobbies and interests are a great place to start. For example, maybe one person is a coffee drinker. Give them a personalized coffee mug. Another person enjoys scrapbooking. Give them a new paper punch. The same thing goes for recognition. Some people like to receive a certificate, others a public announcement.

“The Best Rewards Often Cost the Least” – The sincere verbal thanks or quick thank-you notes are often the best motivators. It is the thought that counts; however, that thought needs to be expressed at the right time, in the right place, and in the right way for the right person. No pressure, eh?

“Everyone Wants to be Appreciated” – People like to feel that what they do is important and valued. Find opportunities to appreciate individually the good job that everyone does in your organization.

“Behavior is Controlled by Consequences” – If you can provide regular, positive consequences to positive behavior you will create more positive behavior.

“Team Spirit Is what you Do with People, not to People” – Involve people in the planning process for your work team. Find out what excites people about being part of your group, what they are proud of, and what they like to do. Then create opportunities for them to be involved in the planning, operation, and evaluation of their favorite parts of the project or organization.

“Practice Makes Perfect” – What matters is not what you believe or say, it is what you do. Practice providing recognition and appreciation for people’s daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual achievements.

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