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The Best Standard for Employee Recognition and Appreciation: Becoming Someone's Favorite Boss

By Paul Falcone, Vice President, Human Resources, MPTF

Paul Falcone, Vice President, Human Resources, MPTF

Senior executives often sponsor formal programs for employee recognition and appreciation, which is a great place to start. But in truth, the glue that bonds any employee to your company is the relationship with their immediate supervisor. Build your frontline management team’s leadership muscle by focusing on one simple goal: becoming someone’s favorite boss.

Ask your frontline operational leaders about the best boss they’ve ever had, and you’ll likely hear responses that sound like this: “She trusted me to use my best judgment, he always made me feel included and like my opinion matter.

"Recognition and appreciation go hand in hand. Celebrate achievements. Have fun. Lighten up just a bit to give your staff members room to experiment and learn"

She challenged me to do things that I didn’t think I was ready for, and he almost made me feel like I could do no wrong.” When you reflect on those descriptions, you realize that participants are describing their bosses’ beingness, not their doingness. In other words, best bosses aren’t typically described by what they did but rather by who they were and how they made you feel. The lesson? You don’t have to run around trying to do things to motivate employees: motivation is internal, and your job as a leader is create an environment where workers can motivate themselves.

It’s your character, your values, and how much you care that drives employee engagement, so ask yourself as a frontline leader, “Would you want to work for you? Are you being the greatest boss your employees ever had? Are you paying it forward to return the gift that your favorite boss gave to you at that particular point in your career?” And if your confidential response to yourself is No, then build a plan to become that influence in your employees’ lives now.

Recognition and appreciation go hand in hand. Celebrate achievements. Have fun. Lighten up just a bit to give your staff members room to experiment and learn. Catch them being good, mentor and coach them through challenges that come their way, and offer to help them codify their achievements in their quarterly one-on-one meetings or in their annual self-evaluations as they prepare for their performance review.

Next, remember that the strongest performers will always be resume builders, so help them translate their quarterly and annual achievements into quantifiable snippets that can find their way onto their resumes and LinkedIn profiles. By helping them market themselves and highlight and celebrate their achievements, you’ll foster an achievement mentality that goes hand in hand with their sense of being recognized and appreciated for a job well done. In short, lead proactively. Don’t fear that they’ll leave you if you help them build and publish their success profiles—Know that by doing so, you’ll likely cut turnover on your team over time because no one wants to leave a boss who supports and encourages them like that. And when someone does indeed leave for a bigger role at another company, that’s something worth celebrating with your team because you’ll know inherently that it’s your influence and coaching that helped them prepare for that next move in their career progression.

Changing your culture isn’t as hard as you think. Simply go back to that “best boss” model and use that prism to teach your staffers to become selfless leaders in the own right. As it turns out, leadership is the greatest gift the workplace offers because it gives you the chance to touch others’ lives and serve as a role model that your team members can emulate throughout their careers. 

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