Thursday, 07 June 2018 07:32

Let’s Talk About Awards and Recognition

Written by

The deepest craving of human nature is the need to feel appreciated.
William James, American psychologist and philosopher

All of us have an interest in awards and recognition. Here are some common questions I am asked on the topic and my responses. A portion of this information was derived from my book, Neal Whitten’s Let’s Talk: More No-Nonsense Advice for Project Success, published by Management Concepts, now owned by Berrett-Koehler Publishers.

Question

Who is responsible for ensuring that the right members of a project receive awards?

Answer

Resource managers must ensure that the appropriate project members are identified and receive awards. It is expected that the project manager—and possibly other project stakeholders—will be consulted to ensure that the right candidates are selected. Alternatively, the PM can discreetly initiate the identification of the award candidates and make a proposal to management.

Question

Why don’t you think the project manager has the duty to identify and distribute the awards?

Answer

Typically, PMs are not trained to know who is deserving of an award. The PM would likely nominate the “most valuable players” on the project. It is very possible that these MVPs are also the highest level employees who earn the most money. Even if these MVPs performed very well on the project, their contributions might not be awardable—they might only have done what was already expected of employees at that job level. Usually, an award is given to someone who has achieved results beyond what is expected from her at her level. Resource managers are expected to give their employees recognition.

Question

As a project member, I want to perform at a level that qualifies me for an award. Should I work with my resource manager to better understand the award process?

Answer

Yes. There are many ways an employee can earn an award for exceptional performance. Your boss is the best person to explain these methods. It is also a good idea for you to talk with your boss about your desire to perform at a high level so that he pays more attention to your performance and provides appropriate feedback.

Question

What are some ways an employee might be recognized?

Answer

Rewards might include a certificate of recognition, cash, a gift certificate, time off, permission and funding to attend a conference or trade show, a special training opportunity, assignment to a special project, or achieving visibility to company bigwigs—to name a few. Salary increases, bonuses, and promotions can also be given.

My suggestion to managers: If you are going to give a cash award, always accompany that award with a certificate. The cash will be spent quickly; the certificate will likely be prominently displayed and is the gift that keeps on giving month after month, year after year. And please, don’t give a certificate without cash. It’s disingenuous. Even a small amount of cash will be felt and appreciated.

Question

What if a project just completed successfully, and management gave the project manager and team a fixed amount of cash and told the group to determine how best to divide the award money among its members? Is this a good idea?

Answer

This is usually a bad idea, First of all, as I mentioned earlier, the PM and team likely will focus on who contributed the most to the project regardless of their position level in the organization. Project members at a higher job level are, of course, expected to contribute more than lower-level project members. Second, this approach suggests that management have weak backbones—they’re passing the buck and not doing their job to determine who is most deserving of an award.

Question

Do you believe that, in general, organizations and companies sufficiently recognize and award their project members?

Answer

Most companies perform weakly in this area. It is far better to err on the side of giving too many awards of too-high value than too few awards of too-little value. Awards don’t just reward top performers; they also encourage others to stretch themselves and perform at their best. The number-one reason why organizations and companies lose employees is that the employees do not feel appreciated. Awards are a great way to show that management cares about its employees.

Question

If the benefits of providing generous awards are so great, then why don’t more organizations and companies do a better job of administering an effective awards program?

Answer

The simple answer: These companies have weak and ineffective management. The three major reasons why so many organizations do so little to reward employees are: (1) They do not have a well-defined awards program; (2) they claim to have insufficient funds for awards; or (3) they have weakly implemented an awards program.

Question

Isn’t claiming to have insufficient funds for awards a legitimate argument?

Answer

In most cases, no, although this is a common excuse. I believe that a resource manager should set aside at least US $2,000 per year per employee for awards. This doesn’t mean that every employee will receive an award; in fact, many will not. They have to earn the award. Perhaps one employee might receive an award of $300. Another person might receive several similar small awards. Still another might receive a large award of $5,000.

Question

But $2,000 per employee adds up to a lot of money. Many organizations don’t have that kind of money.

Answer

Most organizations have the money. US $2,000 per employee is pocket change—lint in the dryer trap—for most organizations. Don’t tell me that $2,000 per employee is not available, especially in companies in which senior executives receive multi-million-dollar bonuses. Keep in mind that the cost to an organization of losing an employee can easily be $75,000 or more. The annual investment of at least $2,000 per employee as one effective way to show appreciation can indeed be a great investment in promoting high morale and reducing employee attrition.


Advertisement

Question

I work for the government. In this organization, cash awards are unheard of. Any ideas?

Answer

Management is making a huge mistake if they are not actively looking for ways to fix this. Just because you are a government employee does not mean you care any less about recognition and awards. Even without presenting cash, there are many other methods of recognizing and awarding exceptional individual and team performances as I mentioned in an earlier Q&A.

Question

What do you mean by weak implementation of an awards program?

Answer

It is easy for many in management to lose focus on an awards program. Without oversight by middle and senior management, many lower-level managers will perform weakly in this area.

For example, it is relatively common for managers to talk themselves out of presenting awards for fear that some employees will feel that they have been overlooked or, if they do receive an award, it will be seen as too little, too late. There will almost always be some controversy when awards are administered. It is the duty of management to demonstrate a backbone and enforce an effective and consistent awards program.

Question

I feel that I am not appreciated for the value that I bring to the project or for the many little extra things I do. What can I do to gain more appreciation?

Answer

Most of us think that we are not appreciated as much as we would like—whether it be for the many small things we do throughout the week or for the challenging job we must perform. Our natural tendency is to focus on ourselves and our own deeds, not on the merits or deeds of others.

Focusing so much on obtaining the appreciation of others is not productive. Doing so can make you feel bitter and resentful. Instead, choose to be a person who does things for others. Do not expect “thank yous” and signs of appreciation, but when you do get them, enjoy the moment and appreciate them. If project members and peers do not seem to appreciate your skills and the value you bring to the job, let it go. Just focus on doing the best you can and making sure that you bring value to whatever you are assigned. Over time, you will likely prevail.

Question

Should I discus with my boss others’ lack of appreciation for me?

Answer

You need to work through this issue, so perhaps your boss can be helpful. But know that saying you feel unappreciated can be interpreted as a sign of professional immaturity or weak social skills. If you have a trusting, productive relationship with your boss, then go for it; otherwise, seek professional help or help from sources that have less influence on your career.

Question

What if my boss is not aware of my noteworthy deeds? Should I tell her?

Answer

Absolutely yes! It’s possible this is the only way your boss will discover some of these exceptional behaviors. For example, whether or not your boss asks for a routinely written status on your assignments, give her the update anyway. She will appreciate it when it comes time to evaluate your performance. The report should fit on one page if given weekly and two pages (one sheet) if given monthly. It contains at last these three key areas: (1) What you accomplished during the last reporting period; (2) what you plan to accomplish during the next reporting period; and (3) items you want your boss to know about. It’s the last category where you should toot your horn whenever appropriate. By the way, only toot your horn to your boss—nobody else cares.

Question

I have done the math: There doesn’t seem to be a sufficient return on investment if I work extra hard to achieve an award, particularly if overtime is required. If I continue to do what I am doing now, I will continue to see salary increases and job promotions—although maybe not as quickly as those with more ambition will. So why should I care about “extra” recognition?

Answer

It’s your choice. Many people derive a deep sense of satisfaction and fulfillment from their dedication to helping projects and organizations be more successful. Life is an adventure. I would not be as self-fulfilled if I woke up each morning just wanting to get by. Many people want to make a difference—leave their mark. I do what I do for the inner me. Ask yourself: If you owned the company, which type of employee would you want to attract—those who do only what is required, or those who put in the extra effort?

Read 1263 times
Neal Whitten,PMP

TopContributorNeal is a popular speaker, trainer, consultant, mentor, and best-selling author in the areas of leadership, project management, and personal development. He has written over 150 articles for professional magazines—over 80 for PM Network magazine—and is the author of seven books. With over 40 years of front-line project management experience, Neal has developed and instructed hundreds of workshops, webinars and mobile learning courses; and presented to hundreds of thousands of people from across hundreds of companies, institutions, public organizations and professional conferences.

Email: neal@nealwhittengroup.com
Website: http://www.nealwhittengroup.com

 

© BA Times.com 2017

macgregor logo white web