Many years ago, I had an employee give me some cheesy book called something like, “1001 ways to say thank you to your employees for super cheap, you thankless jackass”.

So, needless to say, I’ve always sucked at giving recognition. Not that I don’t appreciate all my co-workers’ effort. I just figure it is assumed. I mean, I’m amazed with the fact that people even keep showing up for work. Seriously. When they actually apply effort, I’m speechless and I assume that everyone understands that. Not always the case.

Okay, I also hate sounding like the stereotypical, manipulative boss: “great job in the trenches today Bob. *sip coffee*

I’ve tried different things to overcome this weakness, but it has always been a struggle. It struck me last year that it doesn’t need to be solely my responsibility to recognize the contributions of others. I did what I do best: I delegated! The “Pod of Gold” was born.

Pot of GoldIn short, I have given every Dolphin at Smart Dolphins the power to give any other Dolphin a $50 “bonus” and a written testimonial: or as we call it, a “Pod of Gold” (we refer to our team as “The Pod”). I want these to be “special” so I have limited each person to giving out a maximum of 3 per month. We’ve worked the awards and testimonials into our weekly tactical meetings so that they have more meaning and stay top of mind.

I could see some business owners might be a little hesitant giving this kind of “spending power” to all their employees. You might worry that everyone will give out the maximum each month and that there would be political jockeying going on. We have always had a great culture and the stakes are low enough that I considered the risks of these pitfalls to be nearly zero. So far no pitfalls (I do have my eye on that Jesse guy).

We’ve given out a fair number of Pod of Golds (maybe 30 in a year), so it has come with a bit of a price tag. Money well spent; The idea has been a big success. I have seen a very noticeable impact on our team. I don’t believe we’ve ever been a stronger unit; you might say we’ve entered the golden age at Smart Dolphins. The idea was so well received that I actually received a Pod of Gold for the idea!

And to bring it full circle, I find that the recognition that comes from others (to others) serves as a great reminder for me to give more recognition on an ongoing basis. I think I’m getting better.