Recognize extra effort by your employees or it won't continue.

We are going into detail this year, showing you how to motivate, monitor and measure your employees to ensure getting a full eight hours work for your eight-hour paycheck. We do not want you to overlook or not appreciate what your diligent company-minded employees do above and beyond what was agreed upon or directed.

I showed this list of 10 “nice but not necessary” items to one of my clients and asked him how many of these were being contributed by his team of 66 employees.

1. Value-engineering. We used to call this a suggestion box and some call it empowerment or upward communication. Your employee simply questions: “Why are we doing this when there is a better way?”

These employees see each situation from a different angle and are in a position to save valuable time, materials, tool rental and money.

2. Availability. Whenever overtime and after-normal-work-hours tasks are needed for meeting or beating job schedules and commitments, these employees will sacrifice their personal time and commitments.

3. Recruiting. These are your “pro-company” ambassadors who bring you the best of their friends, relatives and acquaintances.

4. Mentoring. We used to call this godfathering, where a seasoned employee adopts a new hire or newly promoted employee and shares knowledge, experience and wisdom. This includes our Green & Gold program.

5. TNT (Twi-Night Training). These are the willing, experienced employees who conduct after-hour training at your shop or on your jobsites. This includes teaching jobsite blueprint reading with our color-tracking process.

6. Atta-boys from customers. When your employee pleases your client enough to receive a congratulatory comment, letter or phone call.

7. Repeats and referrals. That employee's customer comes back for more or recommends your company to his or her friends.

8. “We can use mine.” Your employee furnishes his personal power tools or vehicle for your benefit.

9. Continuing education. These employees strive to learn everything they can to benefit themselves and your company. They also encourage other employees to learn.

10. Team spirit. We call this “Amish barn building,” where each employee helps his teammates with personal projects at home. This also includes volunteering for civic duties, church projects, Habitat for Humanity-type projects, donating blood, etc.

My client said, “I'm sure some of this has happened, but I don't think it's too common. I have never noticed or paid much attention. As you stated, it's 'nice but not necessary,' and we certainly aren't paying them to do it!”

I told him, “Maybe this would happen more often if you did notice and pay more attention.” We then reviewed those 10 items and theoretically estimated what they would mean to the company's reputation, success and profitability. His only question was, “How can I make it happen?”

Naturally this brought us back to the “Want more in '04? - Keep score!” theme. Keep in mind that any extra or special effort by your employees needs recognition and appreciation or it will definitely not continue. Why would anyone go out of his or her way to help someone who did not even appreciate it? Would you?

A Little T.L.C.

I hope all of your supervisors already have a performance file on each of their employees. This file should contain their scope of work (job description) and a signed copy of your company policy (rules and regulations). This is what you are buying from that employee and your supervisor needs to monitor his or her performance based on that agreement. This performance file is then used for wage reviews and promotions.

You can add an incentive, motivator or bonus program to encourage and reward any extra effort. Here again, you must keep score to keep your program fair and effective.

My recommendation is to include each employee's supervisor in your incentive plan, since they are generally the only management aware of any extra effort or action. We call it T.LC. for Team Leader Challenge:

  • Your supervisors encourage, assist or only recognize this extra effort.

  • They acknowledge with a verbal atta-boy or girl, then document and date that action as a T.LC. credit in that employee's performance file.

  • At the end of each month, those credits are forwarded to the owner to be reviewed and evaluated to establish a T.LC. Employee of the Month Award. This creates that critical appreciation.

  • Depending on the size and stability of your company, you should reward the supervisor and the employee equally for their extra effort. Typically this is a dinner for the supervisor and the employee. This recognition should be broadcast to every employee and to your clients and associates.

  • At the end of each year, the owner should review the 12 monthly winners and award a T.L.C. annual award - generally a cruise, trip to Disney World, hunting or fishing trip, tickets to the Super Bowl or World Series, etc. Once again, this T.L.C. reward is for both the supervisor and the employee. The most effective reward is something they would really enjoy but would not put in their own personal budget.
I am certain each of you can easily recall giving that extra effort either as a blue collar worker or a supervisor. Wouldn't a T.L.C. have boosted your morale and encouraged more of the same? How much of your extra effort was not even recognized, let alone appeared on your scorecard?

Keep in mind that all of your supervisors are also your employees. You should monitor your written and posted chain of command with each monthly review to ensure every supervisor is encouraging this extra effort, as well as being encouraged by their immediate boss. This all becomes quite routine when you keep score.

Our list of 10 “nice but not necessary” items is not all-inclusive of the extra or special company-minded efforts. This list should get you thinking about what your own employees have done for you in the past. You can put an employee's name on each of those items along with an approximate date to verify your need for the ever-so-critical recognition and appreciation.

If you really want more in '04 - keep score.

Ridilla at ISH North America
Paul Ridilla is a scheduled speaker at this year's ISH North America trade show held Oct. 14-16 in Boston. He will present “Beat Critical Schedules And Tight Labor Budgets: Profit-Oriented Jobsite Team Building Techniques” Thursday, Oct. 14 at 9 a.m., and “Your Female Connection - Today's Quick Fix For Our Critical Skilled Manpower Crisis” Friday, Oct. 15 at 9:45 a.m. To register for the show, visit