I generally hate giving awards to one individual because I think everyone works really hard and does a good job. However, one of the comments suggested for improvement was to recognize staff more. What kinds of things have you done to recognize the staff, make them feel appreciated, and boost morale?

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Is this feedback specific to you or to your team or whole organization? Mostly I find people just want to be thanked in a way that shows you understand what they did. Like instead of just saying ‘thanks,’ you say ‘thanks for working late on X. The client really valued the additional analysis you did because it helped them make a decision on Y.’ When people feel like their work matter to you, to the team, and to clients, that leads to that feeling of appreciation and fulfillment. Most people don’t want awards or big call outs - they just want to make sure their efforts are seen and meaningful.

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Saying "Good job" or "Thank you" go a lot further than people think, especially for people that don't hear it that often. If their boss believes in only giving negative feedback, that can be incredibly draining.

If someone does something outstanding, or consistently gives me great work, I'll send a note to their boss or career advisor to praise them, and cc: that person. When I was new, a client sent a note of praise to my boss, and it made my year when it got routed to me.

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I send hand written cards in the actual mail. Even as grown ups people love to get mail, and a personal note means a lot to people, sometimes more than a gift card. Because it means you took personal time to say thank you.
I also send notes to their bosses to tell them what a great job their person has done. sponsorship and public recognition means a lot to people and has the added benefit of boosting their visibility.

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During my first busy season, the manager on our engagement sent out an email highlighting the value each member brought to the table (e.g. working diligently, positive attitude, funny, etc), and thanking us for pushing through late nights.

Definitely meant a lot to me that a manager would take the time to email a first year staff!

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Happy hour, wine bottle delivery after a tough assignment, teach them mastery of a new skill

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You are therefore assuming everyone drinks ?!

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Sage advice from KPMG1. I would also add, ANY genuine communication/recognition is terrific in my book. Constructive criticism included.

I’ve been our top performer for 4 years and personally don’t get feedback on either end, so I feel like I’ve plateaued and don’t have anyone to help push me to be better, so I have been considering moving companies.

When I ask for feedback, I simply get: “You’re doing great!” I’ve altered the question of where to improve in various ways, and the response is always the same.

So, tangible, genuine positive feedback after accomplishments is amazing. But, it’s always appreciated when there are tangible goals to work on together as well. You could do this in a monthly or quarterly 1:1 goals call. Get to know individuals on your team personally and help push them to be their best selves.

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You can also reward a team or the whole staff versus any individual. I do a birthday gift card ($25 to Starbucks) with a nice note about how I value how they do x or contribute x to the team to each staff member. I also think stopping in the next day after someone stays late is a great gesture. I usually give my paralegal my card and tell her to go get herself lunch or coffee on me if she's doing something extra annoying after hours. And I regularly will order lunch in for a team if they've done a lot to get a specific project done, etc. When I was a paralegal I was very food-motivated lol so I generally go that route.

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Weekly 15-20 minutes calls to highlight staff achievements.
Special email with someone special to the staff member in copy to highlight how great he did.
Simple call to say I noticed xyz.. Good job..

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Sending Individual thank you notes, bring in a thank you lunch for the team, and finding some one on one time with your top performers and give them positive feedback .

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