Pleasure call. Call an employee into your office just to thank him or her; don't discuss any other issue during the visit.
Add a note. Add a line to a letter received, a reportee's paycheck or bonus, or just all on its own to say what you liked and why.
Join in. Help your employees when they're under pressure to finish a job. But don't be the "boss." Ask how you can help, and then do what you're told to help out.
Change of pace. Reward a top performer by assigning him or her to an exciting new project. If that's not possible, give the person more variety in his or her existing job. Giving employees new opportunities to perform, learn, and grow as a form of recognition and thanks is highly motivating.
Physical evidence. Establish a place to display photos, memos, and other evidence of progress on a major project. Don't wait for people to set something up themselves, and make it clear that everyone is free to post positive items about others and to sign their names as a special tribute.
Blast of pride. Whenever employees achieve a major success, allow them to blow whistles or clang bells. Each department can have its own signal of success. It gives everyone in the place a sense of pride and camaraderie that can't be achieved in other ways.
Names in lights. Recognize people on your e-mail bulletin board or marquee. Think how a little effort on your part can give them a thrill that will last all day, as others also see the messages and add their own.
Copyright 1999 Bob Nelson, used with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Excerpted from Bob Nelson's Rewarding Employees newsletter.