Workplace Recognition Goes a Long Way. Take the Time

by Darwin on October 9, 2010

Employees are feeling nervous and under-appreciated these days.  If they’re not being laid off, they’re thinking about it.  Heck, people are getting fired over 2 cent and for Fantasy Football while they see their 401K Matches disappear.  Companies are cutting back and squeezing every last drop of productivity they can out of their workforce so they don’t have to commit to long-term new hires with the expensive payroll and benefits they come with.  Therefore, it doesn’t take much to really make someone’s day and demonstrate your appreciation for some extra effort they’re putting in or an extraordinary job they did on your project.

This Guy Deserves an Award

Last week, I nominated one of my team members for an award to recognize their leadership and performance during a recent project.  See, as a Project Manager, I don’t have direct reports like when I was an Operations area.  I have many dotted line relationships to various functions ranging from Technical and Quality to Legal and Finance.  They all have their own reporting structures and support multiple projects under other Project Managers as well.  Since I don’t have direct oversight over their year-end appraisal, I find it to be a nice morale booster and a way to say “Thanks!” to nominate people for an award.

Most recently, I had an Engineer at a contract manufacturer putting in 20 hour days to demonstrate a new process and working across his weekend in a foreign country so that we could maintain a rigid project timeline.  Not only has this guy been exhibiting strong leadership in running a Tech subteam (which is a big help to me so I can focus on the overall project), but the demo went well and we’re still on schedule despite multiple challenges.  In essence, he led.  And he did it without complaining and he did it well.

Benefits of Giving

I don’t anticipate that there’s some sort of reciprocal award here.  I don’t think the engineer’s in a position nominate me for an award as the Project Manager and it might look a little fishy if people were giving awards back and forth.  However, I do anticipate that by doing this a few times to a few good people, not only do you foster an improved sense of morale and performance, but you earn yourself a reputation for being someone who gives a crap.  So many managers (not in my company specifically, but hear this everywhere) are only out for themselves and would never take the time to recognize someone outside their group – or even within.  These people often times move up the chain pretty quickly, but the little people (you know, the ones who actually do the work) – talk.  They talk about what a lousy person he/she is, how they are lousy leaders, don’t develop them, never have time for them, etc.  This doesn’t translate into good morale and performance in their business unit.

Aside from doing the right thing for your colleagues, you’re also setting yourself up for a better reputation and performance down the road.  I’ve personally had a couple awards over the years and even if it was just a hundred bucks, I still remember the person that nominated me and appreciate that they took the time to draft something up and see it through.

Find Out What Your Process Is – And Go Thank Someone

A lot of companies have similar programs and employees don’t even know about it.  It might be a financial reward, it might be a free day off, or something else.  Find out from your company if they have a policy to award exemplary performance, pick someone who deserves it and spend the hour or so to draft up something nice and see it through.  Not only will you feel good doing it, but you may realize the benefits down the road.

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Yakezie Round-up: Engineers Edition | Engineer Your Finances
October 18, 2010 at 10:34 pm

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 FB @ October 12, 2010 at 7:14 pm

I absolutely agree with this. Being a consultant, I see lots of different companies and the best ones are the ones who recognize the work of their employees and the ones don’t DON’T work (and take action accordingly).


2 Evan October 12, 2010 at 11:30 pm

Sometimes a simple nod that someone appreciates you can go a lot further than an insignificant raise


3 James W. June 15, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Great post, people are always ready to get on you for what you’ve done wrong; however, compliments for doing a good job or recognition is not done often!


4 Arvin J July 30, 2011 at 1:06 am

Simply killing some in between class time on Digg and I found your article .


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