|From Hype Success|
In the Army, giving a medal was obvious. However, there were other ways to provide recognition which could be more readily appreciated. You could call a person to the front of the formation and explain the accomplishment, thank them for the hard work, and potentially give a reward, like additional time-off or a choice assignment.
Another thing that the Military uses a lot are Challenge Coins. Mostly Battalion Commanders and higher have coins that they (or their staff) carry with them, and hand out to personnel for doing a good job (or sometimes as a memento for meeting them, like if you met the Secretary of the Army). These coins had a bonus associated with them. If you were in a military bar, occasionally a person would slap down one of these coins. Everybody else would pull out the coin they were carrying (if they had one). The person with the highest ranking coin (all the way to the President of the United States) pretty much drank for free the rest of the night. I've often thought about creating Challenge Coins for the larger projects I manage. It seems like a great idea, and carries a lot of weight with it.
In Toastmasters, there are many "levels" of accomplishment, from Competent Communicator and Leader all the way to Distinguished Toastmaster. However, it takes a while to get to each of those levels (for the communication side, it takes 10+ speeches per level). A lot of the time it is difficult to motivate new members to get to that first level. When I was President of InNOVators, a corporate club, we started providing certificates for the first and fifth speeches, to show that the person is on the right path. At the tenth speech, the club invites the awardee's manager and co-workers to the 10th speech, and provide a free meal and celebrate his/her accomplishment by presenting the award to them in front of his/her boss and peer.
At another club, there is an award called the 100% Toastmaster. The new member earns a name badge with the title of the award. In order to get the name badge, they have to participate in each role of a Toastmasters meeting. This reward can be worn at every meeting, giving the recipient an instant show of credibility and experience. Great idea!
In the same vein as the Challenge Coins, I typically give out custom made pens. Pen turning is a hobby of mine, and I use the results of that hobby to show my appreciation for the people who perform well. As a current Area Governor, I told my area clubs that the first 10 people to get their Competent Communicator and the first 5 to get an Advanced Communicator award would be able to choose the pen they would receive. At present, 8 of 10 and 4 of 5 are awarded, and we are just past the halfway mark for the Toastmaster year. My area is 1 of 5 in District 56 which has reached (and surpassed) the stated goals for the areas (out of 34 total areas).
Pens aren't just for Toastmasters. I provide them to my team when they do something that I feel deserves recognition, and sometimes even to people outside my team who go above and beyond. Other ways to recognize are taking a person to lunch, awarding them a gift certificate, or praising them at a meeting. I even keep a set of Thank You cards in my desk, just in case. I am sure that if you think about it, there are many ways that you can recognize the people that go above and beyond the job description.
The question is, will you be a leader and provide that recognition, or take the easy road and let your team toil in obscurity?