IT Manager: Ways To Show Your Appreciation To Your Team

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Surely your team struggled hard and made things happen. You cannot say “this is what you get paid for” and just leave – you cannot keep your IT staff that way. They happily followed you, reached their goals and it is time for you to show your appreciation to recognize their contribution. Here are some ways you can recognize your team.

First things first. Whatever you do, don’t forget to say thank you. No matter how much you talk or how long you write, missing a simple “thank you” make all your effort meaningless. Don’t omit that simple statement.

You may show your appreciation in different levels:

  • individual: people want to see that they are valuable
  • project: people want to see that they are making an impact
  • team: people want to see that they are helping their department/colleagues to be successful

Many of the IT leaders somehow omit one or the other when expressing their recognition. When your team made it successfully to the Friday evening, the last thing they want to see is that their managers are leaving work without saying a simple “thank you.” This kind of behavior simply takes away all the motivation and joy out of the work.

In many companies, IT people are the ones who fix one problem and move to the other and/or who finish one project and move on to the next. Even worse, everybody has accepted this as the nature of the business – pausing for a moment, seeing what you have accomplished and praising for success are perceived as the things that are for “other departments.” I firmly believe that this thought is the direct result of widely spread bad management.

Here is what you can do. You can just prepare an annual report and take your staff to the spotlight, without omitting anyone. Just make the report colorful, creative (hint: maybe as an infographic) and show the photos of your personnel. Show who was involved in what project, who were the people that made things happen and all that. Send this report to all employees. Prepare a presentation and present it to the managers. Make your IT staff firmly understand that they receive company-wide recognition and you are doing your best to praise them.

And yes, “I am working for you behind the scenes” is the most idiotic thing that you can say to your staff. If you are saying this to your colleagues, believe that noone is stupid and everybody knows what that means. You are trying to manage people by making unverifiable claims and nobody, including you, is believing it.

Also don’t forget that the families are part of your IT department. You just cannot say “downtimes are only allowed during off-work hours, this is the nature of the business, that’s why you are getting paid for and your family knows and accepts it.” If your staff has gone through the after hours – yes, in addition to their regular office hours – and weekends to make everything as smooth as possible, it is because their families also support it. You can just offer them a little time back and reward everybody for their contribution – a good dinner with wife and kids at the company’s expense won’t hurt the company.

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And sometimes people just love to get loose. You can just arrange fun stuff with your staff and do silly things. You can go out on the picnic, you can invite people to a barbecue session, you can offer “to go analog” and play paintball rather than have a multiplayer session. You can even set up voting to ask people how they want to spend their time together, and if possible, together with their families. It is not all about the paycheck or following the “corporate norms.” Just take out your manager jacket and be yourself. People want to have some good time without borders and that’s it.

If you want to go further and allow for a continuous, periodic recognition, it may be a good idea to discuss with the HR. What you can offer is offering bimonthly awards, peer recognition, public recognition and the like. You can discuss with the HR the best ways to keep the pulse of the IT and the business staff following your company’s culture and procedures. What I would recommend at this point is to set a base rule to keep management away from the nomination. Let your staff nominate someone who they believe has done an exceptional job. Or let the peers vote for the person in IT who has gone above and beyond in their job.

For the top performers, set up interviews, preferably with the executive management to discuss and learn about their contributions and their overall impact to the company. This will both recognize the performers and let the management learn about their motives and force them to think how they should contribute to enhance the impact these people are having on the company. Again, take management involvement out and have the top performers nominated by their colleagues and/or peers.

Here are some ways how IT leaders can recognize their staff and show the value they create, the strategic role they play to the entire organization, in the broadest scale possible.

… and your take. How do you recognize your staff, their accomplishments and showcase them? Let us hear in the comments!


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