“Nice Job” Just Isn’t Good Enough Anymore

Business literature is filled with all the reasons performance reviews just don’t work, but maybe part of the issue is that we aren’t addressing the real needs of the employees. Yes, they appreciate a positive comment from their manager. Employees do want an annual or semi-annual sit down to talk about your view of their performance and to set goals for the next year. They want to know where the company is going and how they fit into the big picture.

But at the same time, they want to feel like they are part of the team. We spend more time with our employees, and they with us, than our friends and family. Teams are forced to interact and support one another, whether they like it or not. As leaders, we need to do what we can to make our environments a pleasant place to come every day.

I am not suggesting that we hold hands and sing Kumbaya. Salesforce has a great system of creating an employee community. These are easy to manage activities that leaders can put in place to show employees that you care about the whole person, not just attendance and productivity.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas from the past 30 years of my experience connecting with employees on a level that goes beyond performance:

Send a Birthday card to the employee’s home – It’s not much effort to throw a card on someone’s desk. But in the electronic age we live in, actually buying a card, addressing an envelope and finding a stamp…now that shows real effort! Better yet, their family now knows that the employee is appreciated by their manager and a valued part of the work group. Consider sending a $5 Starbucks gift card and you’ll be a real hero.

Pot luck recipe party – The idea is to have a pot luck lunch with a twist. To begin, the company provides employees who want to participate a $10-15 gift card to a local grocery store. Employees use this to purchase the ingredients for the item they will bring to the pot luck. The day of the event, employees must bring the dish along with the recipe. Then someone is responsible for collecting all recipes in the morning, and creating an office cookbook.  Employees get to taste each other’s contribution and receive a copy of the personalized cookbook with recipes to make on their own. This has been one of my favorites over the years!

Flexibility on arrival times – Depending on your business, this may be the easiest benefit to give employees. It is so stressful to start the day running and worrying about being 2 minutes late.  How much would it hurt your business if employees had an arrival window? Now if you work in a doctor’s office, they have to be there before the first patient.  But, does it matter if it is 20 or 25 minutes ahead? I often work with organizations that insist employees take a 1-hour lunch. Why? I know that when I worked in a traditional office, I didn’t have anything to do for an hour. Consider state law, as many require a particular minimum mid-day break. But, absent that requirement, can you offer some flexibility here?

Set up a team walk for a local charity – support your customers or a cause employees are passionate about by having a team at a local charity event. Those that don’t want to participate in the activity can come along as the cheerleading group and provide morale support. This activity will rally your group around something meaningful, remind people that there are issues out there bigger than the daily struggle and may provide a place for less experienced or involved members of your team to shine.

Go to a movie or watch a TV show  Pop culture can bring people together quickly. The movie “North Country” came out in 2005 and starred Charlize Theron and Woody Harrelson. The story was based on the original Supreme Court cases that changed the way we treat sexual harassment in the workplace. I use clips from it today in my anti-harassment training program in organizations. One day, out of the blue, I closed our office for 3 hours and we all went to see the movie. Not only did we have a great time, but it provided a common language for our team to discuss workplace harassment with our clients. The same can be accomplished with TV today. What about having a sales team watch “Shark Tank,” and discuss the pitch the next morning? Do you have a team of customer service people? What about watching “Undercover Diner,” and then discussing what they found? The idea is to make it fun, but provide a common platform for conversation.

Do you have a great way to engage a team? Share with our community. I hear of so many great ideas, but it’s a great way for all of us to learn from each other.


Originally posted on the HR Topics Blog.




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