On page 229 of A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide)--Fourth Edition, under "Project Human Resource Management," I'm happy to see the following:
"Project managers should continually motivate their team by providing challenges and opportunities, by providing timely feedback and support as needed, and by recognizing and rewarding good performance."
I salute and encourage this. Yet I would advocate taking this statement one step further. Teamwork is based on validating all members for their contributions and making sure they feel valued.
Rewards and recognition let people feel special and know that what they do is appreciated. Acknowledgment, however, goes right to the heart. It lets people know that they make a difference, that the success of a project would not be as great without them.
A heartfelt and authentic acknowledgment can be spontaneous or it can be planned. Send an e-mail to a team member's manager about what a great job the person is doing -- and copy that person on the message. Or just look the person in the eye and tell them how much you value his or her continuous contribution.
If you feel moved when you do it and see the person light up as you communicate, you'll know you're on the right track. You don't need to order a plaque or buy a gift card when you're overcome with gratitude to have that person on your team. Just let them know -- from your heart, in a truthful way -- and the impact will be phenomenal. They won't be able to do enough to make the project a success!
So, in the PMBOK® Guide--Fifth Edition, I hope to see a reference to the power of acknowledgment. I will even help draft it, if invited!