What does your department/unit value? What are specific behaviors or activities do you want to reinforce? Informal recognition can be used every day to acknowledge contributions of individuals, teams and work groups. And it doesn’t cost you anything.
Here are some ideas about how you can give informal recognition to your employees.
Give an employee a simple "thank you." It only takes a moment (less than 60 seconds) to recognize the efforts of an employee. You can call it "fly-by appreciation." For example, "Thanks for getting that memo out to the staff so quickly. Now they will have time to read it before the meeting."
Pay attention. Noticing when people are doing the right thing increases the probability they will repeat it. For example,"I saw how smoothly you let that student know what they could do to avoid a delay. Thanks for providing such great customer service."
Inspire employees to excel. People who feel appreciated are more inclined to exceed average performance goals. Many are compelled to give the “discretionary effort” necessary to create a healthy organization.
Reward the right things. You get what you pay attention too. If you positively comment on how an effort helps maintain your department/unit’s core values, facilitates customer service, helps orient new staff, or builds team work, employee will know what is important and valued by your department/unit.
Personalize your approach. One size does not fit all. Employees are individuals and respond differently to the same recognition strategy. Spend time learning how employees want to be recognized.
Provide opportunities for all employees to be recognized if they are contributors. Improving performance, making the extra effort, being creativity, performing at a solid and consistent level each day, stepping forward when extra help is needed - these and other such efforts are opportunities for you to recognized employees.
Keep it positive. To have the greatest impact, the recognition message needs to be completely positive, specific, sincere and given soon after the effort. You can coach later.
Recognize teamwork. When the relationship among co-workers is positive and productive, recognition enhances work performance.
Source: Adapted from University of Iowa