What about perceived unfairness? If one person gets an email of praise, while their colleague gets a gift card to go out for dinner, can’t this create a sense of resentment?
Steve, this is a common issue raised, especially among teams who are not that close or who are highly competitive. Although a sense of unfairness and resentment can potentially develop, we have not found this to be a problem with the teams with whom we have consulted. Why? Because communicating appreciation is a ongoing process that is fluid. While a person may initially desire verbal affirmation, and value those types of messages for a while, people’s preferences for types of encouragement can change over time. We help educate teams about this issue and help facilitate ongoing communication among colleagues, including team members saying something like: “I’ve realized I wouldn’t mind receiving some tangible gifts of appreciation myself — just wanted to let you know.” This usually addresses the issue.