When executives get too busy to offer high levels of employee recognition, one knock-on effect may be that there is increasingly less to recognise in the first place. Here’s where you should invest your time in order to avoid that …

It’s kind of par for the course, when national sporting teams achieve a significant victory, for the president or prime minister of the country they represent to make some time for them. Whether it’s by means of a meeting or a phone call, they are recognised not least of all because it’s good politics to thank those who have made us all look good.

There’s a lesson in that, for all leaders.

One of the challenges of leadership is finding the time to get down with employees while juggling such a heavy workload. The response often is that work becomes the priority, and making time for people becomes something that you would like to do, nut just can’t spare the time for.

Perhaps the biggest reason is the perception that reaching out to employees is logistically complex; gathering people together and blocking off a section of your schedule to go and see them face to face, almost demands that you first have a big announcement to make.

The result is that the big news of small deeds goes under-recognised. And that’s a mistake.

How great do you think the impact would be if the CEO, and the executive team set aside 30 minutes of every day, to make personal phone calls to employees who have gone above and beyond the call of duty?

That’s five 30 minute sessions per week, in each of which you could manage five to ten phone calls, depending on the level of chattiness you get in response to that unexpected call.

It would need you to be informed not only about who is doing great things, but the specifics of those things, so briefing may be the more complex task.

But how powerful would it be if Jane in marketing got a call from the CEO to say thank you when she personally rushed out on a Monday afternoon to soothe a client? Or when John in technical support picked up the phone after five on a Friday and spent an hour talking a client through a problem?

Perhaps it’s impossible to clearly quantify the benefit the business enjoys when employees do more than they should, but you have to acknowledge it’s seriously valuable. Certainly it is valuable enough to invest small, but regular amounts of time in.

Over time, board-level recognition and praise could simply become a part of the culture.

That’s the sort of thing that motivates people.