TURN on any nightly newscast, and you will hear the doom-and-gloom discussions about the economic recession.
Reactions inside organisations run the gamut from "Things are great. Go, team, go!" to "Stop all spending now!", based on manager leadership styles and their comfort level with potential high-risk changes.
One of the first places you will be asked to curtail expenses often affects the very people who keep your business going - team members.
The manager who can balance the bottom line without sacrificing the spirit of the team is the manager who will weather economic highs and lows effectively.
Your team members are doing their job and performing well, and it is only human nature for them to want acknowledgment of those efforts.
Here are my 10 ideas that do not cost a cent:
1. Use praise
You know this one, yet many team leaders find it hard to do in-the-moment.
2. Increase visibility
Write an article about your team members' contributions, send a group e-mail, let your chief executive officer know, or announce it during a staff meeting.
3. Give information
Employees crave accurate information, so communicate often and early. It will stop potential rumours and increase their trust in the company direction.
4. Increase involvement
Create ways to solicit individual opinions on issues facing your organisation. Where practical, allow the team to have a voice in the final decision.
5. Offer interesting work
Create opportunities for individuals to work on a special project team - a plum assignment that encourages their professional development.
6. Give feedback on performance
Report back more frequently what you see the team members accomplishing and how they are meeting your expectations. This may lead to a mentoring relationship.
7. Listen, really listen!
Consciously practise deeper listening to understand and connect with each individual. Pay attention and stay focused to what your employee is saying.
8. Allow flexibility
If it is not critical to customers, can you allow team members freedom in establishing their work hours and time off?
9. Recommend independence
Offer in-house training that allows each team member to learn a new skill. After the training, give them a project to use the new skills and allow them the autonomy of how the task should be completed.
As adults, we aren't often allowed to "play" at work, yet it relieves stress and improves morale. Consider lunchtime walks, team stretch breaks, Joke of the Day challenge, Silly Socks Day, or whatever your team brainstorms.
If you have a minimal budget, here are three low-cost recognition ideas:
1. Recognition box
Fill a box with small supplies (cards, colourful Post-it notes, smiley paperclips, assorted page flags, stickers, markers, coupons and so on) that an individual can select when you have observed him doing something great for internal or external customers.
2. Certificates of recognition
Create awards for individual performance. Anything from a customer interaction to a hidden talent can be recognised.
Acknowledge birthdays, company anniversary, safety milestones and production goals. You might begin just by lunching out together. There is something satisfying about connecting with others through the sharing of a meal.
It does not take much to recognise team members even during harder economic times. It does, however, take consistency for you to get the most impact for your efforts.