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Expecting employees to do the job they are paid to do is a given. But how often do you thank your employees or give them formal recognition?

“Praise is one of the best ways to recognize staff performance,” according to Head of Customer Support Services at Y Soft Corporation Aleš Neveselý.

We need to start thinking beyond the expectation that employees should just 'do their jobs'. Why? Because employees might be challenged to meet your minimum expectation through no fault of their own.

Why are my employees underperforming? 

There are several reasons your employees may not be meeting your expectations. These might include:

  • Lack of experience
  • Poor training
  • Misunderstanding or unawareness of company culture
  • Out-of-date or under-performing technology
  • Lack of direction or mentorship
  • Too many tasks
  • Difficult customers

Understanding the barriers to employee success is the first step to recognizing exceptional performance. 

Here are 13 great ways to show employee performance appreciation:

1. Recognize Employee Performance and Personalize the Acknowledgement

Performance, recognition, acknowledgement, and praise is a direct reflection on an the individual’s performance and thus the individual's personality and preferences should be considered.

Martha Gery, PMO at My Alarm Centre, noted that not everyone likes public awards. Personalize the recognition as much as possible. Her opinion was echoed by Anthea Noonan, Director of Global Markets at CEAD.com who made a great point:

“Rewarding someone with a movie ticket whose language of appreciations is 'words of affirmation' is a missed opportunity."

It's important to recognize employee performance and make sure the individual is at the heart of any consideration you may have on how you proceed to reward them. Connect with your employee's management or closest colleagues if you're unsure how the employee would like to be recognized for their exceptional work. 

2. Celebrate Small Successes and Early Wins

If your employee makes a minor mistake, they are likely to be corrected. So the same should be applied in reverse. Celebrating employee performance success (regardless of size) is crucial for building confidence and maintaining a positive environment.

It is a quick and easy way to let employees know that you appreciate their efforts and welcome all their achievements.

Here are some examples of quick praise:

  • You handled that difficult client really well
  • Thanks for responding to that request so quickly
  • This response is great. Let's save it as a template for similar requests in the future
  • Wow, great job on that last call
  • Thank you for the extra effort there
  • I appreciate your enthusiasm
  • You exhibited a lot of emotional intelligence on that last call

For more examples of giving feedback that works, check out this article


3. Shout It From the Rooftops... But Maybe Not on Facebook

Just as you want to be sure to acknowledge small wins, the big wins should have equal investment in recognition. Don't be afraid to shout big wins from the rooftops! Making a big splash and letting everyone know about excellent performance will be sure to leave employees chuffed and maybe even earn them a pat on the back from colleagues and peers.

“Do it loudly and broadly, communicate in a blast that reaches from the board room to the docks.” Thanks to Darrell Watts, owner of Miles Technological Group, for this suggestion.

Widespread recognition can happen in several ways. Try recognizing your employee:

  • During a team or staff meeting
  • On the company Slack channel
  • On the company's Facebook or social channels
  • In the employee newsletter
  • As an all-staff email 

4. Throw a Red Carpet Awards Ceremony for Your Organization

Now and again it's a great idea to go all out and make a big deal about how great your organization is. And, more importantly, celebrate how great the people in your organization are. A red carpet awards night to celebrate performance is a great social occasion for the organization as well as the perfect opportunity to shine a spotlight on high quality performance and valued contributors throughout the teams.

Thinking smaller scale? A staff lunch, game night, after-work dinner, or team field trip are great ways to show appreciation on a budget.  

While you're at it: here are 10 call center games that improve employee engagement

5. Reward Low Performers Too

Low performers should be appreciated too. There are many factors that could be contributing to low performance. Remember, there may be organizational barriers preventing your agents from performing.  Furthermore, those who aren’t necessarily the high-flyers or goal-scorers still add enormous value to the company. If every company was filled with high-achievers it might be a very difficult place to operate.

All team members should be recognized, General Manager at Pizza Hut’s Contact Centre in Pakistan, Wasif Balouch suggested. Low performers could be rewarded by giving them performance related targets according to their abilities.

6. Applaud Employee Performance Failures

Have you ever wished your employees were more vocal with their ideas? Or better yet - that they present an idea which they already started to research and test?

A great way to foster a culture of innovation is to celebrate employee failures as a method of encouraging risk taking and innovation. Suresh A.V of Eureka Forbes said that caution must be waived with this approach and expresses that bad work should not be hidden. 

Instead, use failures to recognize innovation. And invite and incentivize other employees to try new things as well. 

7. Small Token Rewards are Meaningful too

Acknowledging high performance does not always have to come with a price tag. It doesn’t even have to have any element of reward associated to it. However, if you do want to reward, small tokens can go a really long way. Thabisa Magxwalisa, Team Leader in Volkswagen Group, suggested the following;

  • A floating trophy
  • Lunch vouchers
  • Leaving the office an hour early
  • An email from the “big boss”
  • Mention in a company bulletin

Do you have any other small token suggestions? Tweet us to let us know and we will include it in our list.

8. Show Appreciation for More Tasks

Don’t be selective of just two or three tasks to applaud, cast a wider net and start celebrating lots of jobs people are carrying out. Damian Holznagel who is a Senior Customer Service Centre Operations manager with Swanson Health Products says, “There is no such thing as 'too much'. Even recognizing what some would consider normal job functions adds incentives for others to walk down that path.”

9. Make the Employee Performance Acknowledgement Fair

Recognition and rewards cannot be biased. It will be viewed negatively if unfairness in the system is apparent, especially if the structure excludes certain types of staff/people.

"Make the reward process fair, pay on time, and close to the performance." - Jeannette Eason, Business Lead, Maximus – We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

10. Ask Employees What They Want

Remember whose performance you’re celebrating. If you are planning on rewarding your staff, who better to ask than the staff themselves? Being asked is a nice gesture and it might play into some healthy competition for rewards and prizes or incentivize employees to improve performance.

11. Positivity Must Glow from Employee Performance Acknowledgment

Praise and recognition must exhibit positive energy. It is a way to make your employees proud of their work and let them share in the joy of their achievement. Negativity can wriggle its way into conversations about high performance. For example, remarks like 'you should be doing this all the time' and 'we want to see more of this' can leave a bad aftertaste. Feedback like this may insinuate that their good-enough efforts, aren’t good enough. It might also put added pressure on employees to consistently achieve peak performance, which can be more of a hindrance. Tony Schwartz of The Energy Project puts it, "Humans are not like computers, we are not meant to run at high speeds, continuously, for long periods of time."

“Ensure all conversations (including coaching yourself) are, without exception, framed with positive energy, future-focused and designed to create a positive outcome.” - Paul Litwack, Founder, The Capability Improvement Coach.

12. Recognize the Right Employee Performance Metrics

What behaviors are important to your organization? What are the core messages you want your customer service representatives to portray? For performance recognition to be meaningful it must zero in on the right performance metrics. 

“If you are recognizing the average length of a call without recognizing the quality of that call, you are doing the representative and the customer a disservice." - Martha Gery, PMO at My Alarm Centre.

13. Say Thank You

Saying thank you is the easiest way to show gratification. They are only two words, but they are very powerful and they can never be said too many times.

Another two words that are sure to receive a warm welcome too are “well done”.

Ready to start tracking the success of your agents? Scorebuddy's easy-to-use scorecard software is the best place to start. Take a tour and build your first scorecard for free today.

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Tags: Call Center Training, Customer Experience & Service, Call Center Management