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We have found that there are three key elements to a successful reward program.

1. Acknowledgement (how do they want to be noticed)
2. Did they get to choose what to do?
3. A sense of achievement

Now each one of these is an essay in it’s own right. What really works is the sharing of successful stories.

I recently came across an article (though written way back in 1997) about simply remembering to have fun with reward and recognition.

According to Mr Weinstien of Playfair Inc. “the difficulty with a standardized reward and recognition program is that it is a completely impersonal process. Instead of thinking about the specific people involved, the company provides the same process and generic rewards to everyone. But when an element of fun and play is added …the experience becomes personalised and much more memorable for the award recipient. Without any additional expenditure, the reward can become even more meaningful.”

Some months ago a client shared with me the story of a colleague that they knew. This woman had been a team leader and then promoted to head up a small call centre (50 people). She said to herself ‘I am going to really show my people that I care’. There was one exceptional performer and she wanted to make sure he was acknowledged and that his colleagues knew what a contribution he made.

So she arranged an awards dinner and invited the ‘winner’ to come and accept his award certificate (beautifully framed). However what she got was anything other than glee. In fact under his breath (loud enough for people to hear) he made a derogative remark about what the company could do with it’s plaque. (The new manager was so very embarrassed.)

Over the following 12 months this ?winner? continued to be an outstanding performer. The new manager really wanted to let him know that he was noticed and appreciated but did not want to go through the humiliation of another awards ceremony.

She dropped by his desk and noticed the photo?s of his kids throughout his cube. She spoke to his colleagues and found out that the most important thing in his life was his children.

The manager contacted the ?winners? wife and then arranged secretly to have a professional photo shoot of his children. (They were sworn to secrecy and the wife and children had a fantastic day.)

So when the award dinner came around again?and this time when his name was read out, and he rolled his eyes, as he came to the podium he could only see the reverse of the frame. When the frame was presented his eyes filled with tears and he beheld his beautiful children?and he whispered his thanks and how beautiful the award was.

And of course when Dad got home the children were so excited to share their side of the story.

Remembering that people are all people ? and a sense of personality and fun are essential to a successful program.

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