I don’t remember the idea or action that earned my first penny from him, but I remember thinking that I must have done something really wonderful when he gave me a nickel. He carefully selected the coin to match his level of praise for an employee. I kept the coins Max gave me taped on the surface of my desk, and I wasn’t the only employee with such a collection.
Max Crotser was the publisher of The Daily Times in Maryville, Tenn., and the coins were just one of the little ways he recognized employees. One of the newspaper’s photographers wrote this in her remembrance of him:
Finding the front page of the paper with my photo circled on it with a great big ‘GREAT JOB’ written beside it was like Christmas; it truly meant the world to me.
Max knew that recognizing frontline employees’ work was important to his role as an executive. It didn’t take a lot of time or money. It did require thought and action.
He didn’t just make a remark in passing. He gave small, tangible tokens that were more meaningful to his staff than large trophies and a grand ceremony would have been.
Max didn’t rely on his managers to issue all the praise. He listened when they talked about their employees, and then Max let those employees know that he had heard about their great work.
Those small gestures boosted morale, motivation and productivity. And their impact will last, although he is now gone.
I wish that I could give him a quarter for teaching me that lesson. Instead, I’m passing the lesson along to you:
- Take time each day to recognize your employees.
- Give them something they can see, hold and remember. Don’t just say “Good job” in passing. An email is OK, but a handwritten note is better. Think further and you might find a meaningful token. For example, in your office, the desk with a running shoe displayed on it might designate the employee who recently “went the extra mile” to please customers.
- Brag about your staff. If you aren’t the top executive, ask that person to congratulate your employee for outstanding work. If you are the top executive, make sure that your employees hear you singing their praises to others.
Finally, never underestimate the return you will gain from a few moments spent on recognizing your staff.