Lego minifigures

Be creative with recognition

Getting recognition for some good work you’ve done can make your day, even your week! It gives you extra energy and shows your work is valued. Yet, with so many positives it’s difficult to get right and too many times overlooked. However, by getting your creative juices flowing, you can create recognition that is not only appreciated but will also have a lasting positive impact on your teams.

This was the situation I had in a previous role. We had company level rewards and recognition which worked well but because it was for everyone there were fewer opportunities for those in the Product Teams to be recognised. We needed something more regular within our group to shout about!

Team vs individual recognition

Before I share where my creative thinking led me I want to briefly cover team vs individual level recognition. I’ve heard a few times people say we shouldn’t recognise individuals as it’s a team effort. I disagree. It is a team effort but I’ve seen countless examples of individuals going the extra mile or doing something amazing for our customers. Only recognising at team level misses a great opportunity to celebrate the amazing efforts of individuals. The reality is, even within the teams people know who really made a difference so it can create more of a problem not recognising them!

I understand not everyone likes to be singled out, even for something positive. This is one important reason to learn about each person in your teams. In this situation, it should be taken thoughtfully, but there are ways to handle this so we can show appreciation without making people feel uncomfortable.

There’s nothing stopping recognising teams as well. Having both is a good thing especially if there is a larger number of teams.

Deciding who wins

The cadence for the award was to be monthly but we needed a fair way of deciding the winner. Having leadership simply deciding is not ideal as leaders can’t see everything that happens.

What could be better than having your co-workers shout your praises? So having the team submit nominations was the way to go. In the middle of each month I’d send out a Google Form requesting nominations, simply saying who and why. People could as many nominations as they liked!

People view ‘good work’ in different ways. It’s not just about effort, we want to celebrate how someone has helped out other functions, improved efficiency of key processes, reduced costs on the monthly infrastructure spend, or been a champion to our customers. Seeing the nominations come through each month showed the variety of work that people valued.

An additional benefit with nominations is that you also learn more about the teams. Who is submitting nominations regularly? Who is frequently getting nominated? Does someone mainly nominate the same person? It provides useful data that could indicate areas that need a closer look. For example, if someone never nominates or even a whole team doesn’t nominate, that could signal possible issues with team health that could be looked into.

The prize

Although recognition is important there’s never the budget to regularly buy expensive gifts. This makes it tricky when looking for something unique.

I was looking for something a bit different that would also last. Gifting a voucher to get a meal from their favourite takeaway works ok but it’s done and forgotten about quickly. The unique part was a challenge because the cost needed to be low so it could be monthly and minimum effort to do each time.

This was pushing my creativity to its limits!

Then I found the answer in lego – who doesn’t love lego?!

I was able to create a personalised lego minifigure for the winners. Each minifigure had our Product Teams name printed on the back and I was able to either print something personalised or company related on the front. Then could have some fun with the accessories! You can get minifigure accessories for pretty much anything now so they can be tailored around the hobbies/interests of the winner.

Here’s a few creations…

The outcome

This recognition was very well received. We regularly received a good number of nominations each month (after a few reminders!). And there was genuine anticipation from the teams as we found out who had won.

It was also a great opportunity to share with the team everyone who was nominated along with some of the whys. Even though there’s only one winner, it’s still important to highlight the great work that’s been happening. Some comments were also passed onto managers for 1:1s or review discussions to congratulate and encourage them to keep it up. Highlighting good behaviours in a visible way encourages others across the teams to do the same.

The process also created awareness of what people have been working on, breaking down some of the silos that can form with cross-functional teams. Collaboration also increased, people wanted to learn more about particular work so they met in smaller groups to get into the details.

This prize itself was very well received! The winners were excited to see their personalised minifigure. Often it was placed in a visible place around their home desk so it’s on hand to show people. It was great hearing how their families enjoyed seeing it too. Ultimately, it created a lasting memory that only cost £15-20 each month.


Good recognition can be hard to get right but that shouldn’t be a reason to overlook it. However much effort it takes, it’s nothing compared to recognising great work that’s happening across the teams.

In truth, these lego minifigures did take some effort! Once I knew the winner, I needed to find out about their interests if I didn’t already know. Then I had to design the minifigure, some parts I brought in advance but usually needed to order a few accessories. But, it was worth the effort seeing the reaction from the winner each time.

Being creative with recognition can make such a positive difference. Pizza and treats has its place, but it’s not very inclusive in our hybrid/remote world and can get boring! Lego minifigures may not be right for you, but if you get creative, you can introduce some form of recognition that helps your teams feel extra special.


If you’re interested, here’s where I sourced the different parts:

  • Byronbricks – Create own minifigure with printed bodies
  • Minifigs – printed brick with “Monthly Award”
  • Brick Owl – marketplace for parts and accessories
  • Amazon – Mini-figure display case



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