As a leader, it’s your job to make sure employees are recognized for a job well done. In most organizations, this recognition is financial. While employees appreciate a boost to their finances or a trip to an exotic island, Mary Schaefer, an HR expert, reminds us that great managers go beyond money and awards during the recognition process.

Know Your Team Members

If your company has always given out tickets to symphony concerts or to a pro sports game as a way to reward team members who have reached an important milestone, it’s time to rethink your strategy. Employers used to think that team members would appreciate receiving the same perks senior managers enjoyed. A far better approach, says Schaefer, is to find out what each team member values. One team member might be thrilled with a day at the spa, while another person would love a day of kiteboarding lessons.

How can you track this information? Use your HR management system or an internal tracking system to stay in touch with your team members. And don’t assume that what a team member loved 5 years ago will be the same today. If Elise in accounting now has two children, she might appreciate a dinner out for herself and her spouse instead of the karaoke event she loved when she was single. Keeping up to date with what your team members enjoy is one part of getting recognition right.

Redefine Recognition

You can’t always afford to give team members tangible rewards when you want to recognize them. But, you’ll want to do something to make sure others notice big contributions. When you take actions like publicly praising a team member or co-worker on the internal communication system, you’re contributing to positive culture. Schaefer points out that this strategy is a way to redefine recognition.

Culture-building recognition is a two-way street.  In some cases, recognition can be about owning up to mistakes. If you promised to take care of a problem, whether it was for a co-worker, team member or superior, and you didn’t, take action right away and apologize for dropping the ball. If you know the promise you made in a meeting is going to create a headache for your boss, let her know. She’ll appreciate your honesty.

If it’s been awhile since you’ve thought about how recognition fits into creating corporate culture, it might be time to study what’s happening on your team. Pay attention to how people respond when they are praised. Some individuals love the limelight while others will run for the doors, because they don’t want to be singled out. Once you have a handle on what each individual appreciates, start building a formal and informal recognition process to improve your culture and build employee loyalty.