How to Recognize and Reward Your Employees (the Right Way)

One of the toughest parts of being a manager or entrepreneur is delivering feedback. Thankfully, it can also be the most rewarding. Delivering the right message to your team not only makes them more successful, but it also inspires and elevates them to take on new challenges and rise to new heights.

So how do you walk the line between being a “helicopter entrepreneur” and correctly rewarding great behavior? It’s simple; you find ways to incentivize their originality and special talents of relying on textbook management techniques.

Here are some easy ways I pull it off at my firm that you can start using today:

Have a weekly “highlight reel”

I quickly realized that every team member has a unique skillset blueprint that can’t always be recognized by others, so they should be able to bring it to the forefront.

One easy way to flesh out their Genius Zones and deliver great feedback is through a weekly highlight reel. Every Friday, I’ll have team members talk about the one accomplishment they’re most proud of. This not only allows me to examine the work the find most critical, but it allows team members to see how their individual projects have a broad impact on the company at large.

For every project, we’ll examine how it affects LexION’s mission and what positive effects it had. For instance, the marketing team is able to see how one of their projects brought in new potential clients this very week when they meet with the client servicing team. Even if you don’t want to have a weekly meeting, you should also find ways to let each team become their own cheerleader.

Let them know that all feedback is a gift

One of my managers once told me that “it’s when I tell you everything is absolutely fine that you should start getting worried” and even though it was little harsh, that concept has stuck with me ever since.

As an entrepreneur, being strapped for time is an extreme understatement. So even though it can be tough to swallow, any time a manager devotes to giving feedback is extremely valuable. Quite simply, if your work didn’t matter, or if there wasn’t any chance for improvement, there wouldn’t be any feedback involved.

Feedback can be a tough to stomach, but it’s really a chance to improve and shine to our brightest. I always let my team know that, and unless they’re doing something truly horrendous, I show them how it’s a chance to improve on their already impressive work. A great way to start is by doing a “one up, one down” feedback loop.

What have you found is the best way to reward successful behavior? I want to hear from you! If you liked this piece, you can find more entrepreneurial advice in my column for Inc. Magazine.