Woman receiving praise

Creating High-Performing Public Sector Teams Through Employee Recognition Programs

Written by on January 28, 2014

Although it’s common to hear that money incents people, the public sector needs additional strategies. In some cases, pay for performance programs and salaries have been frozen for several years and generally, monetary compensation isn’t very flexible.

What Can Managers Focus On Instead?

Employee recognition is very important. Most ministries have their own employee recognition programs. The Ontario Public Service (OPS), for example, grants an annual award to recognize excellence. The Amethyst Awards program was created in 1992 and any individual, group or partnership in the OPS can be nominated. Recipients are selected based on exceptional work in the areas of:

  • Client service
  • Innovation
  • Leadership
  • Professional Achievement
  • Building a Diverse Organization
  • Championing Learning
  • Working Horizontally Across Government

This Kind Of Recognition Is Important. But Don’t Underestimate The Value Of Fun Either!

Having fun adds great benefits to people’s lives. Over the course of my career so far I’ve enjoyed fun at workplaces that were also extremely busy and demanding. Establishing a social committee, holding events based on holidays and festivals, and promoting learning and development opportunities through monthly lunch and learns were just some of the successful ways that teams helped balance out their fast-paced working environments.

Making time for fun is where the value of team coaching comes in. Even if you have a group of people who are very good their job, the work is often very demanding and isolated. In many cases these people might not truly function as a team; they’re actually just a group. Team coaching has the capacity to transform a group into a real team where members truly have each other’s backs.

Not only does team coaching provide people with a common set of skills, it also:

  • provides people with a much greater awareness of how and why people behave the way that they do.
  • gives people new insight onto why their peers behave differently.
  • provides team members with a way to value differences within the team.

For example, at the beginning of a team coaching assessment, team members receive a questionnaire to determine their personality traits. By the end of the assessment, team members have encountered a few of their own “aha” moments – they have a better understanding of why they behave the way that they do. They also enjoy the opportunity to appreciate other people’s qualities and better understand how personality traits come together for team success.

This exercise creates a kind of “underpinning,” which allows people to develop much stronger working relationships. They gain greater self-awareness, and they also have a greater awareness of their colleague’s behaviour.

Whether a minister, a deputy minister, whoever you may be, team coaching creates a solid foundation in the context of an organization’s performance plan. Consider it as a unique opportunity for individuals to briefly step out of their role and develop closer bonds with their colleagues.