The Power of Rewards: Show Appreciation during and after Projects

Rewarding people throughout and at the conclusion of a project for their effort and accomplishments confirms to them that they achieved the desired results and met their audience’s needs. It also reassures them that team members and managers recognize and appreciate their contributions. This recognition, in turn, increases the likelihood that they’ll welcome the opportunity to participate in future projects.

The many faces of rewards

Recognition and rewards are appreciated both during and at the end of a project, but they accomplish different purposes depending on when they’re given. Rewarding a person’s efforts while a project is ongoing provides immediate feedback that the person is accomplishing the desired results.

This message encourages the person to continue to perform the way he or she has been and stimulates increased buy-in and commitment to continue to perform the project work successfully. Recognition and awards at the end of a project acknowledge the cumulative effect of a person’s efforts that led to successful achievement of integrated portions of the project work.

Also, the benefits of any increased personal desire to work on projects in general or in the areas of the one just completed will be realized through the employee’s participation in future efforts, since the current project will soon be ending.

Recognition and rewards can take many forms, including the following:

  • Offering a personal expression of appreciation to the person in a conversation, e-mail, or note

  • Providing a written expression of appreciation to the person’s supervisor for the person’s contributions

  • Formally submitting input to the person’s performance appraisal

  • Nominating the person for a future assignment she especially wants

  • Taking the person out to lunch

Generally, recognition and rewards given during the course of a project tend to be more informal, while those presented at the end are more likely to be reflected in company systems such as performance appraisals or future job assignments.

Make the reward meaningful

Sometimes you may use more than one medium to express your appreciation in order to emphasize the strength of your message. However, to make your expression of appreciation most meaningful, do the following:

  • Be sure your appreciation is honest and sincere.

  • Note the specific contributions for which you’re expressing appreciation.

  • Respect the person’s individual style and preferences when recognizing her contributions by keeping in mind these points:

    • Some people enjoy being acknowledged in front of their coworkers, while others prefer being acknowledged in private.

    • Some people appreciate receiving an individual award for their contributions, while others appreciate sharing in an award presented to the entire team.

    • Different people derive different amounts of personal satisfaction from performing different types of tasks. Some are proud when they successfully solve a challenging technical problem, while others feel good when they organize and oversee a team activity. Try to recognize people for accomplishing something they personally feel is worthwhile.

    • In any case, a reward or recognition that reflects the personal feelings and appreciation of the person giving it is always more effective than an impersonal reward entrenched in organizational procedures.

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