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Stars and spoons! A fun way for teams to give praise and recognition

Everybody loves a bit of praise and recognition, especially when it comes from our peers. I guess this is because it’s not expected. It’s usually the boss’s job to praise their team’s good work and it is often expected, to the extent that when it doesn’t come it can result in disappointment and de-motivation.

A sign of a strong and healthy culture is when people feel comfortable and happy to praise each other for a job well done. There are no egos or competitiveness, just a heartfelt appreciation for what another has achieved. The challenge is that human nature can make it difficult for this idealistic approach to cross-peer support. Jealousy and insecurity can get in the way. Someone once said to me when describing a colleague ‘he appears to be on top because he is standing on everyone else’. This really resonated with me as what some people do to look good at work. They can put down those around them to make themselves look good, of course this is not going to create a great culture, we must encourage the team to provide praise and encouragement to each other.


What we want is a high performance team, which achieves great results through collaboration and not as a bunch of individuals. After all that old saying of ‘together each achieves more’ is true when it comes to group productivity. So how do we encourage teams to recognise each other’s achievements? First we need to give them a vehicle to do this, often people feel embarrassed giving positive praise to one and other. It can be seen as ‘blowing smoke’ as some people put it.

At Jetts we wanted to encourage teams to recognise each other’s achievements, especially those that supported the culture. An important part of change management is ‘catching them doing it right’ and rewarding that behaviour. So we invented ‘stars and spoons’.

We wanted the reward to have no monetary value and be really easy to award, which is where the star comes in. We also wanted to a have a ‘tongue in cheek’ way of catching people doing it wrong, which is where the spoon comes in.

This is how it works…

When a team member does something awesome another team member awards them a star by sending a group email to the whole office. Here is an example of an email from a colleague awarding a star to another colleague….

Hi Team,

I have a huge STAR to give to Paul on behalf of Marketing & Ops – we had an urgent request today for some data we needed to provide a Business Owner ASAP and Paul dropped everything to deliver a same day turn around! THANK YOU PAUL!!!  We always throw last minute requests your way and need your help to deliver on activities (eg. March Direct Mail out) and you are always able to give us a hand and get the job done which makes a big difference to the network!

Kind Regards,

Sophie Howlie

Marketing Coordinator

Sophie also awarded Paul a star card to hang over his desk, like this one…

Star card

Here’s an example of a star award card that the team complete and then hang over their colleagues desk

Our Culture Team keep a tally of points (star = 10 points and a spoon = -5 points).

Every month we all get together to celebrate our successes. The team member with the most points (total stars minus total spoons) during the month receives a prize. The prize is the best parking space in the car park for a month. Parking is in a bit of short supply, so this is a highly valued prize for the team.

Spoons are awarded in jest between team members for making mistakes; in a really strong culture even negative feedback can be provide in a culturally aligned way.

Star and spoon

Spoons are awarded to someone who had dropped a ball. It’s all done in jest and allows the team to have some fun with each other

It really is that simple! Follow these five steps to implement a similar system in your company…

  • Choose your reward and your consequence. It can be anything you like but make sure it’s easy to give and as I said it doesn’t have to have any real monetary value.
  • Launch it to your teams with lots of fun, talk them through how it works and back this up in an email.
  • Start immediately awarding stars when seeing someone do something right. Even the smallest gesture can be recognised. Ask your leadership team to get the ball rolling first, as leading by example goes a really long way.
  • Makes sure someone is keeping a tally of how many points are being earned by everyone.
  • Once a month add up all the points and have an awards ceremony for the winner! Make sure this is done in a fun way and make them feel special. We have a cloak and a crown that we award to the winner for the month. They then get to enjoy the prime parking space for that month.

Remember to have fun and I would love to hear about how you go implementing your own recognition system!

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1 Comment

  1. Kate

    I love this.
    I am such a huge fan of giving complements and praise whenever I can.
    There is always something positive that can be said about anyone and anything.
    Great injection into work culture.

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