Have you ever been given a plaque, certificate or trophy that you were very proud to receive? Have you ever received an award that meant very little? What was the difference?
How to give awards that will have an impact:
1. Tie them to business results that matter. Do you give a Perfect Attendance Award? Could the worst employee receive the award if they just showed up every day – even if they did crappy work, annoyed their coworkers and trashed the company on a regular basis? In some industries, attendance is extremely important and this award might make sense, but take the time to determine the business results you most want to reward. These might be components of the company vision or mission, or themes of the yearly goals.
2. Use criteria other than popular vote or owner choice. When you ask for nominations for a particular award, ask for specific examples or reasons for the nomination. Ask the nominator to share a mini story about why this person deserves the “Employee of the Year” award, for example. Use the business results you determined above to ask for comments in those particular areas. Once you gather the nominations, the number of votes is not as important as the content of the stories and examples. Regardless of who is chosen to receive the award, make sure all the nominations get back to the employee so they can read the nice things everyone has said about them. Send them home in a thank you note so they can open it in front of their family.
3. Deliver the award with a bit of a “wow”. Share some comments from the nominations, add your own specifics, keep the suspense about who is receiving the award while you describe it, have a drum roll, and gather as many people as possible, including some key leaders.
4. Give them something cool to walk home with. Certificates and plaques are okay, but I’ve seen some really interesting award “trophies,” whether it be something useful or something pleasant to display.
Before you hand out those awards this year, check them against these criteria to see if they will be seen as cheesy or as sincerely appreciated. What else do you do to make your awards more impactful?