Whenever appropriate, make it public. There is nothing like being recognized in front of people you know and respect. It lends validation to the positive feedback. When one, or all, of your employees do something well, recognize them in front of others. Public recognition is free and a great tool to build morale.
There are a couple of caveats to this.
First you need to know your employees. Although most people thrive by being praised in front of others, a small percentage will be embarrassed. In these cases, there are some options:
You can send out an email to your group or in some other way post the feedback or “atta boy” in a way that everyone sees it, but the recipient is not necessarily standing in the glare of the spotlight when it happens. Some DO appreciate the public positive strokes – they just don’t like it to happen “live” in front of others.
You can send the person an individual email, and perhaps copy only your boss. This way, the employee receives the positive strokes, and knows that someone else significant is aware of the job well done, but they are not called out in front of their peers.
Or you can just call the person aside individually and deliver the feedback. They will appreciate both the feedback, and the confidential nature of the communication. You get the least mileage out of this because others don’t have the opportunity to learn from the experience, but at least you have sincerely motivated and reinforced the key employee in question, and you haven’t embarrassed them.
Second, consider the appropriateness of the time and place. You may not want to call the production floor to a halt to make a statement about an employee’s positive action. Comment to the employee personally, and then at the next available public venue (staff meeting, shift meeting, company newsletter, etc.), recognize the employee to his or her peers.
The bottom line: get to know your employees, so you know whether they thrive on public recognition or whether they are more reserved and would appreciate one-on-one feedback.
Know Your Employee's Preferences
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