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Michael Scott, Regional Manager of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company, has gone down in (fictional) history as one of the worst managers of all time. But those times when he gets it right, he really gets it right (ahem... employee recognition). Often, he exemplifies the words we focus on most at Awardco: Recognize, Reward, Celebrate, and Manage. Though Michael may not be the best at it, we can still learn valuable things—both good and bad—from his example.
Recognize the Good Work of Your Employees
Michael’s infamous Dundie Awards didn’t leave out a single employee. And while his reasons for recognizing people were often... not merit-related, he had the right idea by making sure to include everyone. No matter what position or where in the company someone contributes, they’re a crucial part of your organization. Make sure they know it, whether it’s with a physical token like a service award (or a Dundie) or with points they can redeem for anything they want.
Let your employees know what you think of them by recognizing them often. Recognition can double employee engagement. Let them know you care so they don’t end up buying their own “World’s Best Boss” mugs.
Reward Your Employees
Michael had a point when he said, “Presents are the best way to show someone how much you care. It's like this tangible thing that you can point to and say, ‘Hey, man, I love you this many dollars worth.’”
A gift from your employer can have a huge effect on employee engagement and happiness because it's something tangible you can look at and remember that your company values you. Awardco offers dollar-for-dollar value on rewards, without markups, so your employees can choose their own reward...but of course, not every reward has to include a monetary amount to be effective.
Celebrate at Work
Unlike when Dwight and Jim were in charge, Michael valued and celebrated everyone’s birthday.
We can understand where Jim was coming from as a new manager. If you have a lot of employees, it may seem like too much to celebrate every single birthday. However, with platforms like Awardco, you can easily send employees points or a note so they know you didn’t forget their special day. We can even help you by setting up automatic reminders so you don't have to worry about coordinating every birthday like Michael.
When you recognize and celebrate employees for things like work anniversaries and birthdays, everyone gets recognized at least twice a year. While you should try to recognize as often as possible, celebrating annual events provides a foundation for regular recognition.
Michael may not have always been appropriate at office parties, but at least he knew how to celebrate. Valentine’s Day, Christmas, Halloween, Women’s Appreciation Day...no holiday went by without him throwing a party. These events created positive association with work and brought coworkers closer together...sometimes too close.
Celebrate Your Employees' Accomplishments Outside of Work
Michael also knows the importance of celebrating your coworkers outside of work. He offers advice to Jim and Erin on their personal lives and attends Pam’s art show when no one else from the office does. You don’t have to attend every show, but acknowledging that they are a person with a life outside of work is always a good thing. Your employees are humans with families, loved ones, hobbies, challenges, and joys. They’re not just cogs in a corporate machine. As you value your people as people, they’ll put more value into their work.
Manage Stress Levels
An excess of stress at work is detrimental to productivity and also to employee’s health. Michael always had a plan for when his team was overwhelmed—like playing a murder mystery game to distract them. Unconventional, but we have to give him an A for effort.
Like many things in life, the key to success is starting somewhere. Maybe some of your ideas are bad, but people will notice and appreciate when you put in effort. So even though Michael often caused more stress than necessary, there is a reason why at the end of the day (or television season) he was beloved by his employees. He always tried to make their lives better and to make them feel valued at work.
Note: You may need your tissues for this clip.
Look for ways to improve your employee’s experience at work. Is it more frequent recognition? Different kinds of recognition? Incentivizing programs for hitting goals both inside and outside of work? Service awards and better yearly recognition? There are many simple things you can implement that’ll make the workplace more enjoyable and more memorable. And while there are many ways you do not want to be like Michael Scott, his sincere desire to make his employees feel appreciated is something worth emulating.