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You’re in Kindergarten in the year 19(something) and you just nailed your ABC’s. The teacher walks up to the board in front of the entire class and places a gold star next to your name. Your heart jumps a little as the room bursts out with accolades…. “Great job!” and “You’re awesome!” come fast and furious from your fellow Kindergarteners. You’re at the top of the list, the envy of the entire class, a shiny golden star sits by your name…You’re the Alphabet Hero.

 Remember that feeling way back when? It was pretty cool, huh? And those accolades kept coming throughout your scholastic career...You made honor roll, the Dean’s list, you saw your name up in lights, your self esteem skyrocketed and it inspired you work harder and do more to attain the coveted “Gold Star."

That “Gold Star” feeling is often absent or all too infrequent in our work lives. Yes, we are adults and the merit of a gold star next to our name on a piece of cardboard is not necessarily what drives us to excel. However, we still want to be recognized for the great things that we do and it feels really good when someone takes notice.

Happy employees are more productive employees, and rewards and recognition is one of the simplest and most effective means by which to boost morale, cultivate a team of happy people, and in turn, increase productivity.               

So let’s get back to basics, back to what we were programmed to expect as far back as Kindergarten. It’s simple, just show your people some love.

Here are 7 simple “Gold Star” things you can do to show the love (without breaking the bank):

  1. Institute an employee of the month recognition that comes with perks (a framed photo placed in a prominent area for all to see, a reserved parking space, and afternoon off).
  2. Do you have an employee Newsletter? Create a “Shout Out” section where you call out employees for doing great things (beating deadlines, putting in extra time or effort, “killing” it in that last power point presentation)
  3. On the spot rewards: When you witness an employee doing something great, going above and beyond, or helping out another team member, hit them right then and there with an On The Spot reward (maybe a gift card to coffee shop or a department store, a trinket to put on their desk, or even a certificate). Sometimes we can think of these little things as contrived but I’ll tell you, no matter what it is that you give, it will be appreciated.
  4. Set time aside during your staff meetings to recognize employees for their efforts.
  5. Send out group emails each week highlighting the achievements of your people.
  6. Set up a suggestion box or similar so employees can share ideas and provide feedback. When you come across a great idea or some valuable feedback, commend that employee in the next meeting, newsletter or group email.
  7. Be thankful. Take the time to genuinely thank your employees for their work and give them their kudos. “Hey Jim, I really appreciated your work on last week’s report, awesome job”. Do that in front of other employees or customers, and you will make their week.

 There are so many ways to recognize and reward your people without the need to make a significant monetary investment. The investment you do make is of your time. Take the time to give praise, to make a shout out, to show the love. Be consistent and be genuine and it will go a long way. Remember, happy employees are more productive employees, so give your people their “Gold Star” moments and make them the heroes they deserve to be.

 Sandler's Management Solutions provides a customized plan for developing your people and inspiring that “Gold Star” feeling.

Ed Schultek

Founder and Managing Partner

Sandler - Peak Sales Performance

Learn more about Ed at

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