Especially when they are new to the business, people see their position in the company as fragile. They often need signs other than formal appraisals and skills inventories to help them to feel accepted and appreciated.
Providing your staff with a diverse range of opportunities to represent the company is a great way of collecting information and rewarding performance in the workplace at the same time.
Managers sometimes look on training as a necessary evil. They must release their staff on an irregular basis to improve their skills, possibly selecting the poorer performers first to ensure that the average performance in the department rises. The flaw in this thinking is that training should not be seen as a punishment for poor performance; it ought to be a reward.
Training courses, especially those conducted off-site, can be viewed as a motivational tool. They are an opportunity to learn, to compare experiences, to network and to gather information about life in other businesses. They also allow your people to stand back from their jobs and think more clearly about how best to do their jobs.
Trade exhibitions are often believed to be the province of the sales and marketing team or the technical people. However you should consider how exhibitions can help with day-to-day motivation for any of your people. Having permission to spend a day out of the year attending an exhibition can only be a positive experience. This exposes your people to the wider industry that they work within and can give them inspiration about making their job even more effective.
You may even have your own stand at a trade exhibition. Normally you would staff the stand with your sales and technical people plus, perhaps, a couple of administrators. As a reward for a particularly good piece of work, you could assign junior or non-technical people to the stand that would not normally be chosen for this duty.
Every year your competitors and sister companies will be tempted to attend a variety of conferences. Some of these are essential viewing as they concern government regulations in your industry; others are nice-to-do, dealing with industry trends or introducing new technologies. In the same way that we generally send technical specialists to exhibitions, we tend to concentrate on the same group of people to gather information from conferences.
You may or may not know that this is viewed as favoritism by many of your people who have never seen a conference. They only see the glamour of having a day away from the office and will not be convinced that conferences can be stressful, tedious and boring.
In the same way that exhibitions expose your employees to personalities in the industry, conferences achieve this too. They also provide your people with a point of view about some of the competitive issues with which your business is grappling. It is not unusual for these seemingly junior people to see solutions that you or your normal conference attendees may miss.