There’s a lot of lip service paid to team recognition, but too often it’s done poorly, or not at all, at the end of a project.
Recognition can come in many forms which I classify generally into three categories: Visibility, Awards, and Career Opportunity.
Visibility. The manager of each person on your team needs to know what specific contributions were made. Find a way to provide your input to performance reviews and succession planning—too often, project work is overlooked when an individual is evaluated for annual performance. Senior leadership should also hear the names and accomplishments of the people involved. It’s up to you as project leader to make sure this happens. You may need to do formal write-ups for each team member, or your company culture may be more conversation-based. Perhaps you can submit an article for the company newsletter, naming the team members. Whatever the means, you absolutely MUST do this for your people.
Awards. Use the formal recognition programs in your organization to provide financial or other rewards where deserved. This can be very time-consuming for a large team, but it really matters. You may be able to negotiate with HR and Finance to streamline the nominations process if you have a large group of people. Getting these approvals can be like root canal, but just stick with it. You owe it to the team and it really matters.
Career Opportunity. There may be team members who took on “stretch” roles to demonstrate or develop new skills. Make sure their management knows about their efforts and successes. Spread the word around that So-and-So who’s a Data Analyst also happens to have one heckuva talent at Communications. Help your team members to network if they’re seeking a new opportunity leveraging these skills. Many times over, I’ve given people a shot at doing something “different” on a project, either because they asked or because I saw a glint in their eye. Afterward, I helped them network into a new or expanded role leveraging these skills. By helping individuals develop, you’re building your organization’s bench of talent, as well as strengthening your bonds with people. What’s more, these people will go to the ends of the earth to help you on your next project. And there’s always a next project….