Tips for Supervisors

Employee engagement, where staff members feel a connection between their daily contributions and the successes of their organization, is one of the key factors leading organizations have in common. The relationship between a staff member and the person they directly report to is critical in establishing this connection.

In successful organizations, individuals in a leadership role are more likely to:

  • Act as consistent role models and demonstrate what recognition looks like, particularly towards new hires within the organization
  • Notice and acknowledge extra effort
  • Deliver recognition sincerely and with an expression of true appreciation
  • Recognize employees' family members when appropriate
  • Tailor recognition to the specific situation and the individual involved, making it meaningful

There are three general types of recognition. Thoughtful of "U" is intended to provide information on informal and spontaneous recognition. In addition, the University of Alberta does have a number of formal campus-wide recognition programs in place to celebrate excellence.

Informal Recognition

An annual event to say thank you has a place, but in the absence of numerous interactions throughout the year, an annual event will have minimum impact no matter how much ceremony is attached to it.

  • Show confidence in their abilities. Provide opportunities for professional development and advancement to enable growth on the job. Enlist staff members help to train others.
  • Create a "year in review" booklet. Have a year-in-review booklet with pictures or a celebration highlighting your employees' proudest achievements of the year.
  • Give courtesy time off. Grant employees an afternoon off, or even a day or two of leave for special, personal events in their lives.
  • Have a "Friday surprise". Surprise your staff with something nice on Friday, recognizing them for working hard or just hanging in there. Host a department pizza party or have a group picnic with ice cream sundaes.
  • Get a traveling trophy. Establish a trophy that goes each month to the employee exhibiting the greatest overall performance - behaviors and results - in the business.
  • Set aside some time at a regularly scheduled (weekly, monthly, yearly) meeting to recognize achievements. Read letters of commendation from satisfied clients. But, if the employee is shy and likely to feel uncomfortable, you may choose to send an e-mail message or a memo publicizing the achievements of the employee instead of having an in-person gathering.
  • Put it in the "smile box". Whenever something positive happens, staff members can place a note in the box. Read all notes once a week and draw one for a winner (e.g. gift certificate).
  • Introduce a Star Program. If employees do something beyond their normal job, they are given a star in public recognition. Consider a gift certificate, token or announcement in a department newsletter or website.
  • One-on-One Praising. Set interviews and meeting times with employees, and have them set the agenda.

Spontaneous Recognition

Over the years there has been an evolution in what employees want to feel appreciated. Preference has gravitated toward more intangible rewards; it is about feeling supported and involved.

  • Say a simple "thank-you".
  • Send a an e-card
  • Write personal notes to employees. Jot down a message to one of your employees, recognizing him or her for better performance on the job, or write a thank you note to an employee for putting in extra time in the workplace. Use your personal stationery.
  • Give credit when credit is due. Remember to give credit to those who have introduced great ideas and completed special projects.
  • Encourage and support innovation
  • Provide public positive reinforcement of staff members when they recognize others.
  • Put up a "Way to Go" bulletin board. Construct a bulletin board at your place of business to recognize employees through letters, memos, pictures, thank you cards, and other methods.
  • Bring donuts and coffee to the office for the morning coffee break.
  • Make it fun. Give an employee a giant Tootsie Roll, a gold star, a golden nugget or some other visible item.