Editor’s note: Managing human beings is one of the toughest jobs you’ll ever face, especially as your team grows. We spoke with six founders about what works (and what doesn't).
The more employees a company has, the less likely any one gets noticed. And when employees don't feel individually responsible for the company's success, things slow down.
If you want employees to feel appreciated, you need to celebrate their achievements regularly and publicly. At Lyft, we have an all-hands meeting every other week, and we always call out the most bad-ass, heroic accomplishments of team members since the last gathering. Sometimes we celebrate an individual, like the support-team member who helped manage a project to automate toll reimbursement for all Lyft cities. Sometimes it's a group, like the analytics team that revamped our growth model. Before each meeting, we ask managers to submit nominations. We love reading through all our people's achievements.
We give out awards customized for each hero, like a restaurant gift certificate for a foodie or rock-climbing equipment for a team member who is into that sport, or plane tickets so an employee can visit his or her family. These rewards remind people that we want them to bring their whole selves to the job. We extend recognition to our drivers as well. We collect stories about their actions on and off the job and circulate them in a newsletter and on a blog. We sometimes fly our drivers to our headquarters in San Francisco. It's a fun trip for them and an opportunity for us to get feedback on how to improve.
Recognition won't work if employees don't understand the company's goals and how they contribute to them. So, first, communicate. Then celebrate.