Little Things Motivate A Lot

By Malcolm Fleschner

There’s more to recognizing your salespeople’s performance than a lavish trip to Hawaii at the end of the year. Sometimes, says Bob Nelson, author of 1001 Ways to Reward Employees (Workman Publishing, 1994), it’s the little gestures that communicate volumes about how much you appreciate your people’s efforts. The following are six tips he suggests to make recognition a regular part of the way you run your office.

Write On!
Keep a stack of note cards and a pad of paper on your desk by the telephone. Whenever someone does anything noteworthy, jot it down on the pad. Then, at the end of each day, write a personal thank-you note to anyone who made a difference that day.

Risk Delivers Rewards
Do you recognize people for taking chances and trying new things? Hershey Foods offers an Exalted Order of the Extended Neck Award to employees who risk failure in an effort to improve on the status quo. Can you do something similar?

Open Up the Floor
Praise from the boss is great, but praise from one’s peers is even better. Put in place a structure or system for your people to acknowledge one another’s efforts. For example, some companies at the end of weekly meetings take time for participants to sing each other’s praises for recent efforts.

Simple Gifts
Think recognition has to be expensive? According to a recent study by the Society of Incentive Travel Executives, 63% of U.S. workers ranked a pat on the back as a meaningful incentive.

Personalize It
Think of ways you can make your rewards personal. One executive with NCO Financial Systems lends his Mercedes to junior salespeople who’ve just had a great week – and when they reach their first sales goal he buys them a new suit.

Ding Dong, the Sale Is Closed
To recognize small victories, place a bell in a central location in your office. Then, whenever someone makes a sale or wishes to celebrate a coworker, let everyone know by ringing the bell.