About a year ago Agape Construction in Kirkwood, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, began recognizing the hard work of its subcontractors and staff through its Super Employee of the Month program. At the company's monthly meeting, owner Kevin O'Brien names three individuals — a super sub (or vendor or supplier), a super administrative person, and a super production person — for his or her outstanding work. “They've gone above and beyond the call of duty or have provided exceptional service,” says O'Brien, who gives the winner a certificate and a small token such as a $50 gift certificate to The Home Depot.

In March, Agape recognized a bricklayer. “His comment was, ‘I really feel honored to be doing Agape's work and hope we continue for many years to come,'” O'Brien says. “When we call him for the next job, he won't put us at the bottom of the list. He knows that we value his work — it's the power of encouragement.”

There are two other byproducts, O'Brien says. Agape employees see what qualities the company admires and esteems in other people, and the subs feel a “real ownership [of the company]. They want to perform better.”