How to show appreciation with Kudo Cards in a remote team


I this podcast, I talked with Nadia Harris from remoteworkadvocate.com about how to use the Management 3.0 practice Kudo cards to show appreciation and increase motivation in a remote team.



Learnings as facilitator

In my experience, employees are often used to receiving only bad feedback or expressing criticism. Many have forgotten to simply say „thank you“ and to focus on positive things.

To express appreciation, you can use the Kudo cards in different ways:

  • Sending a Kudo card to a person directly
  • Set up a Kudo box where you put in your card in. The Kudo box is opened regularly. You can share and show the Kudo cards to each other in a meeting like a retrospective in a project for example
  • Create a Kudo wall where everybody can place their cards visibly. Everyone can see all Kudo cards.

In the following, I describe my experiences and lessons learned for the Kudo box and the Kudo wall.


My experiences and lessons learned using a Kudo box 

I tried out the Kudo box in a project team I worked in a client’s project team. In this project, we implemented a new online learning platform and introduced a new consulting approach for workplace learning in this company. Our project team existed of eight people at the client (project management, learning and consulting, software development), an external software provider, and me as an external consultant (I also facilitated the retrospective).

Three weeks before the retrospective meeting where I wanted to open the Kudo box to present the Kudo cards that were put in the Kudo box during a milestone in the project, I remembered the team to write their Kudos regularly. I also remind them to think about the little good things people do in their daily work. It does not only focus on the big things that have a positive impact.

As we worked remotely during corona pandemic, I looked for different ways to set up a virtual Kudo box.

There are many tools out there to use Kudo cards in a remote team. Currently, for me and my client, a Kudo box in an Office 365 environment worked the best and had the highest acceptance. I think the reason is that people already worked in the Office 365 environment because this was the company communication platform and people could use an existing tool. And I wanted to connect the Kudo Cards with the project Kanban board.  We used planner as our Kanban board and task management in Microsoft Teams. I got to know how to use our planner as a virtual Kudo box: I extended our project Kanban board with an extra channel „Kudo box“. There everyone in the team could add their „Kudo cards“.

The cards themselves shouldn’t be visible and displayed because I did not want to lose the dynamic and facilitation opportunity to show the cards in our retrospective meetings. For sharing an invisible Kudo card, we added a new task for each card on this channel just named „Kudo card“ without any details. We uploaded the Kudo cards to the task and chose “not show on task” as configuration so that the card was visible only to the task owner.

For writing the cards, we provided templates.

In the retrospective meeting, we went through the Kudo cards. Now everybody assigned their Kudo cards task on the Kanban board to the person who should receive it. After reading all cards, we put them in our Kudo wall in the Microsoft Teams Kudo wall channel.

Some people reacted happily when they heard their kudos and felt surprised when even little things were recognised. I always feel very appreciated when I receive a Kudo. People in the team said the Kudo showed them their strengths, and that they could recognise even the small efforts they made and that was not so obvious to them.

However, as a facilitator I was also a bit afraid of the following situations:

  • Did everybody focus on positive things?
  • Did anybody feel exposed to receive open feedback in the group even it is positive?
  • Did everybody get at least on Kudo, and what will happen if somebody doesn’t receive any Kudo at all?

I tried to make sure that this won’t happen. I communicated in most team meetings to remember to write Kudo cards with focus on positive outcomes and to write Kudo cards to every team member. But I did not know if people would follow these rules.

Fortunately, we had none of these situations in our retrospective, but I recommend having these in your mind as a facilitator.


My experiences and lessons learned to use a Kudo wall

In the same project team, I tried out to use a Kudo wall instead of a Kudo box to experiment with the difference between both and get feedback on which practice the team would prefer.

Before I introduce a Kudo wall, I always check the team culture because not everyone may feel comfortable that other people can see their Kudos. They might feel exposed.

The Kudo wall should be accessible very easily to everybody in the team. In our remote work, we wet up an extra channel called „Kudos“in Microsoft Team. So that people got used to the channel, I used and talked about the Kudo wall in every team meeting, until everybody was comfortable to give Kudos.

I made the experience that when the Kudo wall is empty, people hardly make the first step to put the first Kudo card on the wall. I learned that I can motivate people by initiating the Kudo practice and give the first Kudo cards to other people by myself. People also find it much easier to give Kudos when they have examples of how to write a Kudo card.

The team liked the combination of having a Kudo box, open it in a retrospective, and share the cards from the box on the wall. They gave the feedback, this has a better dynamic than only using a Kudo wall.

For both approaches – the wall and the box – I recommend providing well-designed templates for Kudo cards. In an office environment for example you can buy a deck at the Management 3.0 shop, or you can download card templates to use them in a remote work environment.


What I would like to try out

I only used the Kudo cards to share a written “Thank you”.

Kudos are not usually linked to material benefits but can be combined with a small reward, for example in the form of vouchers. It is important to keep the amounts small so that the material incentive does not come to the fore.

I would like to try out to give gifts as small rewards with a Kudo card maybe after accomplishing a bigger task or at the end of a project milestone or the project itself so that it will be recognised as something special. In a remote team, a small gift can be sent to the home office (for example a well care package for mental health). Or I would like to try out giving vouchers from local businesses to support them during corona pandemic.


What to keep in mind when using Kudo cards

  • Keep the rewards small, otherwise, people expect big rewards. The Kudo cards are about to recognise the little things.
  • Rewards should be a surprise. People shouldn’t anticipate it.
  • Give Kudo cards in daily business, not only after accomplishing a project or big task.
  • Thank and reward people’s behaviour, not the outcomes


Learn more about Kudo cards and Management 3.0.

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