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Summary:

Too often, out of sight can mean out of mind when you have team members spread out in various offices around the world. Even those of us with the best intentions sometimes forget to thank people or recognize them for doing great work.

Thank you

Too often, out of sight can mean out of mind when you have team members spread out in various offices around the world. Even those of us with the best intentions sometimes forget to thank people or recognize them for doing great work. It’s easy to forget when we get busy, but it’s too important to neglect, especially when you’re talking about your remote employees.  It only takes a minute to say “thank you” or “well done,” and here are some ideas for how you can fit recognition into your regular work routines.

  • Immediate recognition. Try to get in the habit of immediately recognizing people when they do good work or provide you with some extra help (Georgina suggested some ways to show recognition and praise here). A quick reply with genuine appreciation for doing a great job is a good place to start, and you can do this over email, instant messaging, phone or with a handwritten note. Be as specific as possible when you thank someone, and include something about why you appreciated their work. Just replying with “Thank you” is nice, but it isn’t very personal and can sometimes seem insincere.
  • Set reminders. I know this sounds over the top, but it can help to set a reminder on your calendar every day or once a week to spend just five minutes thinking about your team and their work. This gives you time to reflect on how people are doing and remind you to recognize good work. On the flip side, it also gives you time to think about how you can provide helpful feedback for employees who might not quite be on the right track with a project.
  • Staff meetings. I once had a manager who built time into her staff meetings where team members were encouraged to thank other members who had done something particularly awesome that week. This is a good way to make sure recognition isn’t just coming from the manager. Staff meetings are also a great place to provide public recognition or awards for employees, so don’t forget to think about recognition when putting together staff agendas.
  • Rewards. Don’t forget to go beyond a simple verbal “thank you” when someone does something truly outstanding. A gift certificate or small bonus in addition to some public recognition are great ways to reward a team or individual for a job well done. For remote employees, make sure that you think carefully about rewards, since even gift certificates for major online retailers, like Amazon.com, can’t always be used in every country. This is where getting to know your team members’ preferences can really help, and giving a gift certificate to a favorite restaurant can be a really personal way to recognize someone.
  • Celebrations. Most teams try to get everyone together in person at least occasionally. If you can time those meetings to occur shortly after some big milestone for the team (a big release or deliverable), you can use this valuable in person time to celebrate both team accomplishments and provide individual recognition in person. However, recognition is best when made as close as possible to the work being completed, so don’t withhold recognition until you meet in person.

What are your tips for recognizing remote employees?

Photo by Steven Depolo used under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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  1. Jesse Pappas Friday, March 4, 2011

    Recognition for a job well done many times can lead to greater employee satisfaction than compensation.

  2. Randall “Texrat” Arnold Friday, March 4, 2011

    When I joined my current employer, our meetings were dead. I played along with that until people knew who I was, and then slowly started adding life. A lot of that is just deliberately thanking people and teams who have really stepped up. I was shocked that it had not been going on before. Now I’m glad to say others are starting to join in. Hey, people get tired of only being beat up!

  3. It is always a good idea to be good to peeple.

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