The Oscars: What We Learned About Rewards and Recognition

Posted: Mar 01  |  By: Trey Gunn

It’s that time of year when stars flood the red carpet in hopes of obtaining one of those little gold statues to place on the mantel at home (or their trophy case, in the case of some repeat winners). This coveted award is for those who have become a master of their craft and is meant to recognize them for the blood, sweat, and tears (literally) they’ve sacrificed in the last year. Even those who don’t go home with the trophy are often still in good spirits; just to be nominated is recognition for their hard work and a job well-done. So, what did the Oscars teach us about awards and recognition?

Telling Someone They’re Doing Great is Sometimes Recognition Enough

Sometimes days, weeks, or even months go by without employees receiving any sort of feedback on how they’re doing at their job. This delay in feedback can be incredibly discouraging. Why is this? Well, without getting too technical, most people tend to engage in what psychologists call “negativity bias.” This is when people overvalue negative events and undervalue positive ones. It is why a manager may have an employee who gets frustrated after receiving a small correction on one project despite having perfect output on nineteen others.

To combat this, humans need to know that they’re on the right track and meeting – or exceeding – expectations. They need to receive regular positive feedback. When managers get too in-the-weeds and forget to talk to their team and celebrate successes, in addition to addressing failures, morale suffers.

The nomination is recognition enough for Oscar hopefuls. The same goes for your team. The pat on the back, public affirmation, or quick note to tell them “great job” will turn your employees into super-producers. They crave that positive interaction with you.

Rewards Don’t Have to Come in the Form of Bonuses, Raises, or Promotions

Hand out trophies – this is not a joke. As silly as it might sound, a trophy or plaque someone can place on his or her desk to showcase hard work is actually meaningful. Plus, putting it on display motivates other employees to emulate what the “star” employee does. It’s a win-win. You get to make someone feel appreciated while pointing out what it takes to be great! You might even consider holding your own award ceremony or party to honor those who were nominated. This may sound cheesy, but it really shows appreciation and they are sure to remember it.

Don’t Forget to Honor an Entire Team in Addition to Individuals

You know the saying, “teamwork makes the dream work,” and it’s true! You’re successful because you have a great team keeping things moving behind the scenes. But sometimes, one team has a particularly demanding year or brings new excellence to the organization. It’s important to recognize the team as a whole for those efforts.

The Oscars have perfected the art recognition and there is quite a bit we can learn. From the individual awards, to team celebrations, to recognizing those who made an impact, it’s all important for morale. Overall, remember that employees can feel rewarded in many ways, not merely with cash and prizes.