What Managers Need to Know Before Publicly Recognizing an Exemplar Employee

An exceptional employee often does his or her job to near perfection for the sake of the work itself. She legitimately enjoys doing so. He does not come to work each day holding his breath, hoping to hear “thank you” or “great work this week.” In fact, this quality is what makes an outstanding employee just that — he or she stands out because of internal motivation to perform well, instead of being driven by praise or accolades. This is also the very reason why a great company and tuned-in leadership team should recognize outstanding employees on a regular basis, and furthermore, should make such recognition a celebration of the person as well as the performance.

Below, we outline a guide that any manager can use to ensure celebrating outstanding employees is a regular part of the work week — by creating a system that won’t overburden the manager but instead can be implemented alongside routine managerial duties. 

Criteria for Success 

The first question to answer is, “Do you and your leadership team have a clear idea of what an outstanding employee is?” In order to make the process fair and equitable, it is highly advised to put together an objective rubric that outlines what an excellent employee does, says, and believes. This way, your company’s leadership has a tool to use during meetings, observations, and performance reviews, a tool which places each employee on a level playing field and does not rely on any singular person’s opinion. Operating without a rubric or objective list of criteria can lead to employees opting out of the process as a whole, judging it to be unfair, biased, or rooted in “favoritism.”

Make Celebrating Excellence An Agenda Item

Though you may be thinking, “well, that sounds boring,” celebrating excellence in the workplace should not resemble an office birthday party. Just like observational walkthroughs and weekly meetings, celebrating individual talent should be conducted in a professional manner. Bringing out a cake and balloons is embarrassing and counterproductive to the message being sent: you are an excellent employee because of specific and notable things you did, said, or displayed through these products of your hard work. This is not a random celebration and it is not “your turn” simply because it’s a certain time of year. The more professional the celebration, the more dignity and respect will be communicated to the entire company. Other employees will be more likely to buy in to the system and nobody is at risk of embarrassment.

So leave the gaudy “thank you” card at home. Simply adding an agenda item to a weekly meeting or routine whole-team check-in will make celebrating easier to implement on a regular basis and will be certain to drive home the message that this is a distinguished honor, something to be proud of, and something for the rest of the team to strive towards. 

As always, if you have questions or would like to hear about any other topics, don’t hesitate to reach out to us here at ModernHR