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Cheer Leadership Tip 8 - The Heisman Trophy

Pass around a trophy as a weekly award to the crew member that excels. This can be a plastic trophy from the dollar store, a stuffed animal mascot, or any other icon that can be proudly displayed (even if it looks a little silly).

Recent research in neuroscience has shown that receiving sincere praise activates the same areas in our brain that are activated when we receive money or romantic attention – the ventral striatum and the ventral medial prefrontal cortex. It is also said to release the neurotransmitter Dopamine which is associated with motivation, focus, and positivity. Who wouldn't want a little more of that natural drug in their worklife?!

Imagine coming into work each and every day and giving it your absolute all. Imagine doing all that hard work and rarely (or not ever!) receiving any positive feedback for your contributions. Imagine the toll it would have on your engagement, loyalty, and desire to stay with the company. It’s no wonder that only one in four workers feels valued at work and 40% of employees who don’t feel meaningfully recognized will not go above their formal responsibilities. Now imagine the impact on productivity, retention, and engagement levels if company’s could turn this around.

One way to start sharing sincere praise and recognition with your team is by bestowing a trophy or some other type of “award” to the team member who has gone above and beyond that week. A quick Google search will bring up a plethora of ideas. Or you could involve your team and have them brainstorm with you to come up with a unique option that would therefore be more meaningful and special. One tip - be sure to keep it authentic and fresh, so it doesn’t lose its impact and appeal.

This week, I challenge you to brainstorm some ideas on how you can implement your own “Heisman Trophy” for your team. It doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive - something as simple as an impulse item you pick up in the line at the grocery store, a fun plaque with a catchy award name on it, or even a banner to hang over their desk is sure to excite your employees and have them striving to be next week’s recipient.

FUN FACT: The Heisman Memorial Trophy is named in honor of long-time college football coach John W. Heisman, who was also the athletic director of the New York Downtown Athletic Club. The trophy is 13.5 inches tall, weighs 45 lbs, and is cast in bronze.


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