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Way to go! Why public recognition makes rewards and incentives worth more.

Tom Stearns

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public_recognitionAccording to research from the American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP), both leaders and representatives in the sales arena cite “rewards and recognition: motivating teams and reps” as one of the top five challenges of sales organizations. Sales managers are tasked with motivating their teams to achieve specific goals. Recognition and incentive programs are used to excite their teams and encourage them to perform.  What is the best method of recognition to use?

Recognition has many faces. Cash, or the equivalent value in gift cards, is one. Awards, such as plaques or trophies, are another. Merchandise is yet another. But there is another face to recognition; one that focuses less on what you give and more on how you give it.

Acknowledge success publicly

Taken at face value, most tangible recognition rewards are temporary bumps in morale. Cash is quickly spent, trophies gather dust, gift cards are forgotten in the desk drawer. But what does last, often for very long periods of time, is the pride that goes with public recognition.

Gathering the team together to present a recognition award carries a very high intangible value for the recipient.  A handshake in front of one’s colleagues makes them feel appreciated for what they do and shows that they are valued within the organization. Combining an onsite presentation with a company-wide email enhances the reward experience and bolsters the regard that other employees have for the company as well as the individual. Public recognition also increases the recipient’s visibility within the organization, in effect “introducing” him or her to others with whom they might otherwise never have contact with.

Choose the right recognition

Choosing the right incentives depends on which of the many forms of recognition carries the most weight with your team. But beware: research shows that while people may say cash or equivalent gift cards are what they want, what they truly value is an aspirational gift. In fact, scientists have established that luxuries, the things we dream about owning or experiencing, are the strongest influencers on performance.

Most recognition rewards are consumable and forgotten within days.  Gift cards and cash fall solidly into this category.  The most common use for cash and gift cards is for everyday expenses; gas, food, utilities etc. Unfortunately, such purchases do not register as a reward for a job well done; they are perceived simply as household necessities.

On the other hand, carefully chosen merchandise, or, even better, a selection of merchandise, is consistently shown to be highly motivational. And the effect is virtually limitless. Every time the recipient glances at the watch, puts on the name brand sunglasses or cooks on the grill, the memory of the recognition resurfaces.

So the next time you acknowledge a job well done, be sure to do it with a tangible gift and public Atta’ Boy (Way to Go). The return on the gift will be long-lasting; the return on that one simple gesture will be immense.