When it comes to driving results within a company, the key is usually right in front of management. That key is their employee workforce. Your employees drive customer satisfaction and better productivity.

Probably the best way to improve all those things is to focus on your employee engagement and job satisfaction. An outstanding leader knows that through employee recognition they are able to address all of these things at once.

How do effective leaders recognize their employees? In short it depends on the situation. There are a multitude of methods a leader can use from employee recognition awards to something as simple as a personalized thank you. The best approach is always tailored to the specific situation. Below are four ways leaders can recognize stellar employees.

Employee Recognition Rewards

The particular type of recognition program works to recognize employees for their hard work with something of value. Most often, this reward takes the form of financial compensation. For example, it may be a bonus on their next check or even a gift card to a restaurant of their choice. A stellar employee recognition reward program will be appropriate in scope, frequency and most importantly delivery. If you were receiving some recognition from your manager wouldn’t it mean much more to receive it from them directly rather than through an automated message or another department manager?

Personalized Knowledge of Your Employees

An effective leader never forgets how effective a genuine thank you can be. Not only do you want your thank you to be sincere, make it specific to that employee. Knowing small details about your employees personally can help you to tailor this approach to them. For example, if your employee has a performance to attend that their child is a part of. If this employee goes above and beyond to deliver a report to you by a deadline, don’t just give them a thank you for their hard work, make sure you personalize it.

Make Your Employee Feel Empowered

When an employee delivers amazing results, one of the best things a leader can do is make them feel empowered in their position. Recognize them for going above and beyond by highlighting what was so stellar with their performance. A good manager may even use this with team building exercises. Ask that employee for advice on how they were able to deliver such exceptional results and let them feel like a leader. From a leadership standpoint this two way communication can help to deliver results by letting that employee share their tips. A good leader is constantly learning from their employees just as much as coaching others.

Be an Active Listener

One very effective way a leader can motivate their team is to listen to their thoughts and concerns. For example, you can host a weekly sit down with a set number of employees in your department to hear their thoughts and concerns. Your best bet is to keep this in a casual relaxed atmosphere so that you can get good input on how things are going in your company. Once you’ve listened to their input, create an action plan for those thoughts and concerns. For an employee, seeing their leadership address areas of concern can be one of the most effective motivators of all because it shows you actually value their input and pay attention.

No matter how a leader recognizes employees, it’s important to always remember your employees are real people too. As long as you remember that important fact, your recognition programs will already be a huge step above the rest. Focus on your employees and your employees will take care of you and your company in return.