Employee Recognition

There’s a Simpson’s episode I love, called “Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?” The plot starts: A routine physical exam at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant reveals that Homer Simpson has become infertile after being exposed to radiation. Fearing a lawsuit, plant owner Mr. Burns awards Homer with the “First Annual Montgomery Burns Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Field of Excellence” and a $2,000 prize in exchange for a legal waiver freeing the nuclear plant of all liability. Homer is dazzled by the award and Burns is off the hook. Good work Mr. Burns. Eeeeeexcellent in fact.

Employee recognition is a topic which seems to divide folk. I know people who love to get formal recognition, a certificate and a prize similar to Homer’s, and I know folk who hate it. However it is done, one of the things which sits at the heart of good recognition is a sense of immediacy, and another is authenticity.

With this in mind I want to share a couple of fantastic award categories which have been sent in to me. I’ve made them anonymous, apart from that they are repeated verbatim, in full. These were ‘awarded’ every two months, and the wording on the certificates was always the same.

Significant contribution award

For demonstrating outstanding quality ingenuity or perseverance and maintaining an excellent level of professionalism

Team award

For teams displaying initiative through innovation by improving current practices or identifying and solving problems

Monty Burns would be proud of these – how might you feel if you received one?

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

8 thoughts on “Employee Recognition”

  1. What a great post. Great to start the week. So funny. So true. You could use them all instead of wallpaper in the room where you will go every time you feel worthless. 😉

  2. Spot on Doug – the recognition that people respond most positively to is immediate and authentic. It’s akin to the reflex praise we received as a children when we ate food, took our first steps, etc. At it’s heart is a true appreciation of what it took for the individual to achieve. This can’t really be done justice written down… or can it?

    Perhaps organisations could to take a lead from the greetings card industry and create highly personalised & emotive forms of appreciation to come with the equivalent of a bunch of red roses! Sure, it will sometimes seem insincere or even corny as we know the words have been crafted by someone else. However, the fact that we took time to cruise through the shelves to find something that suited must count for some form of appreciation?!?!

    Accompanied with a gift from Thorntons, a ticket to the rugby or a bunch of tenners, surely it shows that we do care in our own way… The beauty is you don’t even have to define the award categories up front!

    1. My reflex response is to say thanks David. There’s some good useful stuff here for us to think about. I have a long train journey in an hour or two – I will buy a smal bar of chocolate and eat it on my travels for you. A virtual thank you.

      Cheers – Doug

  3. lol i love the simpsons and what a choice! Personally, nothing beats a bit of instant feedback – and David nails it with the ‘reflex praise’ example. Its what we crave as adults too. Awards and so on, at periodic intervals are ok and there is a place for them but in absence of day to day ‘reflex praise’ i think they lose their appeal. Added into a rich feedback environment and they really mean something.

    We should all get better at saying well done, or thankyou.

    So, well done Doug, and thankyou for another great post!

    1. Cheers Gareth – I appreciate your appreciation 🙂 When news of these recognition statements hit me – well the post just wrote itself. So I’d also like to thank Monty Burns, good work feller.

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