Rewards and Recognition System in Virtual Teams

In case of traditional co-located teams, pizza parties, lunch/dinner outings etc. are common approaches to celebrating team success while cash or non-cash awards such as public appreciation, customized merchandise or certificates are used to recognize individual performance. But when the teams are globally distributed, it becomes a challenge to reward and recognize their triumphs in an encouraging manner. Such celebrations are more vital in a virtual team environment because the feeling of isolation is experienced much more by their members as compared to that of co-located teams. Some managers realize this and in order to make up for the distance, send congratulatory emails or do a quick 5 minute praise over the phone. But these gestures actually lack the true spirit of recognizing employee’s or team’s performance. These draw a wet blanket on the people’s enthusiasm.

As a virtual team leader one has to think-of-the-box and come up with creative ideas for recognizing good performance to keep the morale of the team high. Below are some meaningful ways to recognize individual and team performance that makes them feel in valued and appreciated:

  1. Before starting review meeting spend some time to acknowledge the success of the project. Both manager and team members can take turns to appreciate each other’s performance by highlighting specific actions that contributed to group success. This would also enhance the team bonding.

  2. If a collaboration software for example SharePoint is used to share data and information, then the additional section can be added to exhibit celebrations with tabs like birthdays, anniversaries, hobbies and pictures etc. This is particularly useful if you have team members working across time zones.

  3. Make use of the opportunities like open house, client calls, group meetings etc. to draw attention to the good performance.

  4. Use e-certificates, e-newsletters or e-announcements to cite efforts that contributed to the success.

  5. Virtual ceremonies are innovative but less-utilized method to celebrate team success. One can send coupons to a nearby restaurant/coffee shop or place an online order for the delivery of food item (like pizza, cake, chocolates etc.) People can then get onto teleconference or even better videoconference for an informal chat session on how they worked toward success.

  6. Some desktop merchandise with company logo and personalized congratulatory notes by senior management also gives a feeling of immense pride to the employees.

It is notable to mention here that even though a part of R&R program should regard individual performance to inspire each member towards higher productivity but at the same time major emphasize should be placed on group efforts because then only will people unite and collaborate together to deliver results. Virtual team members perform in a unique cross-functional, cross-organizational and multi-cultural work environment, therefore their key performance indicators should also focus on working across organizational boundaries, sharing knowledge to support group tasks, ambiguity as well as adaptability to different cultures. The key to unlock the full potential of virtual team’s performance management system lies in both modified performance objectives and distinct rewards & recognition programs. Virtual team members need constant reinforcement that they are important asset of the organization and their contributions go a long way in determining the organizational success.

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