The ideals of customer loyalty are well known: produce a quality product, engage your customers with great customer service, and maintain that positive relationship between your consumers and your business. That loyalty is focused outward and has been utilized to great success.

But what happens when we use those same skills with an inward focus? Can we engage our team members in a way that produces employee loyalty? What would that look like?

Christopher Littlefield, in his article “A Better Way to Recognize Your Employees,” reminds us that recognition sustains and strengthens organizations, and is fundamental to engaging and retaining excellent team members.

Littlefield points out that recognition is often filtered through the one doing the recognizing. For example, if a supervisor values big-picture initiatives and their smooth implementations, team members may feel as though the difficult, detail-oriented tasks to ensure all aspects of the initiative are captured isn’t recognized. They may feel that the final product is the only thing praised, not the effort to ensure its production. Recognition of the detail work might not be the focus of the supervisor, but the effort in those details would be how the team member would feel as though their work was being praised. Do leaders value the effort of production or only provide recognition of the completed product?

In alignment with what is recognized, focus should also be on how recognition is made. How we communicate recognition may be dependent on your team and what they find rewarding. In the course Communicate Your Team’s Talent, Impact, and Value as a Leader (47 minutes), Jonathan Wilson provides a simple framework to showcase your team’s work and discusses how to communicate your successes, as well as how to brag on your team, tell their story, and cheerlead as they continue to move your department forward through their work.

The Team Member Recognition Preference Form can be a helpful tool to learn how team members want to be recognized and help recognition be more personal. Find out more about department specific and statewide team member appreciation and other tools available for use by accessing the MO Appreciation, State Team Member Recognition Program website.

Ann Landers is credited for saying “Opportunities are usually disguised as hard work, so most people don’t recognize them.” As leaders, let’s change that mindset and start to recognize the hard work our teams do, credit them for their efforts, and cultivate a culture of employee loyalty.



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