How To Motivate Employees with Awards and Recognition

“I love the smell of a flower shop,” I told my aunt, as we sat in her office. The bright colors, the smell of the fresh flowers and celebration signs and balloons – how can you not love these places? Sitting in her office, I picked up a crystal award for “Best Sales”, and then placed it back on the desk. As we spoke, my aunt came back to the desk, noticed the crystal award was slightly askew and without thinking, corrected the placement of the award. I never knew my aunt was such a neat freak, but I mean it in jest, for the sake of this article.

Glancing around the office, I noticed that absolutely everything was in order. The office and store looked more like an operation room than a busy flower store. I noticed the employees were a little on the quiet side, too. This prompted me to ask my aunt how sales were this year. Quickly my aunt closed the door and sat down with a worried look on her face. Whispering; “I’m so glad you asked, I was hoping I could get your advice.” She continued, “You see, the folks seem to have lost their zest for the store. You see when we first opened; it was us against the world. We created great arrangements, we had happy customers, we went above and beyond with that unexpected something that made us better than everyone else. Now, I just don’t know how to motivate employees.” She sighed and dropped her head in her hand.

Pausing to think, I asked, “Do you have a list of things for the people to do?” With that, my aunt’s eyes sparkled, “Yes, that I can do really well! I made a list for the designers, I made a separate list for the phone conversations, taking orders, I even added a script to sound surprised when they read the notes I made.”

I waited in silence for my aunt to listen to what she just said, “A list for the employees to sound surprised, as they read a script”. I chuckled, “Auntie, this seems to be a quick fix, sometimes the job for an owner is to give your people the tools they need, and then get out of their way and let them do their job. Rules, lists, and to a degree, control, can smother creativity, drive, and employee motivation.” “When you first opened, you were too busy to watch your people, once sales faltered, you started focusing on every little action, then made lists, then more watching, then more lists, and a script to sound surprised. Sounds like a tough way to be creative,” I said, picking up the little crystal award. “You know what, I have some friends at Award Concepts, and they specialize in awards, surprise, and recognition. Let’s give them a call; they will be able to help your business, and employee morale – bloom.” I laughed – my aunt, not so much.

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