Thursday, January 22, 2009

ON RECOGNITION, AWARD, AND... ANIMOSITY

One Sunday morning last May 2008, as I was about to go home after picking up some personal effects in my office, somebody approached me and asked me about the weather. He asked if “Cosme”, the typhoon, had left; if it would be fine weather that day. As I had not read the newspaper nor watched the newscast on TV that day, I told him I had no idea.

He then asked me if I saw his companion. I told him he went to the rest room. The guy took that opportunity to open up and started to release the bitterness that I perceived from his words and noticed on his face.

I realized that he was somewhat disgruntled and wasn’t really interested about the weather. And the reason why he was asking me if I saw his companion was because he didn’t want the latter to hear what he was going to tell me.

His negative sentiment focused on recognition and award.

He expected to be nominated Employee of the Month but found out that it wasn’t he who was nominated but somebody else. What was more disappointing to him was, the person who had shown and given him moral support and to whom he pinned his hope for being nominated was the one nominated. He felt betrayed. Could it be that the “moral support” was pure pretense?

My initial response to his gripes was silence. I tried to weigh things. I wanted to know with certainty if the guy was serious about what he was talking about. Trying my best to appease him, I just told him, “You are a good worker.” Too, I advised him not to always believe in awards for they may or may not be fairly or justly given.

As his companion had returned from the rest room, he put his right index finger on his pouting lips signaling he was ending our conversation. He then excused himself.

On a separate occasion, another office personnel—a lady administrative assistant—appeared to be working against her will as she was complaining about a task she was asked to do. It wasn’t her job but the one who was supposed to do it went on leave for a week or two. Releasing her negative feeling, she told her officemates, “I should not be doing this as this is not my work. I have my own specific task to perform which I might neglect to do if I will do this. Besides, she (the employee on leave) was given award for this while I wasn’t given any award!”

It seems that although recognition and award motivate employees to improve their efficiency and productivity, they can also cause disillusionment to some and animosity among other employees. Why is this so?

I also remember an instance when one Administrative Office staff requested me to proofread and edit a memorandum she prepared regarding the giving of awards. She stated in that memorandum that the purpose of the program was to boost employees’ morale. As I edited the memorandum, I made a comment that the primary purpose of giving awards should not be just to boost employees’ morale but, first and foremost, to recognize outstanding performance of employees. For to give awards just to boost employees’ morale may mean to demoralize those who will not be given awards and would be tantamount to saying
  • those awarded have low morale
  • those not awarded have high morale and probably don't need any award at all.
We have read or heard about some incidents regarding the giving of awards (especially in showbiz) that were tainted with deceit and complaints. And we have also read or heard about some supposed-to-be recipients of awards who refused to accept them because they believed the award-giving body was not credible.

But, I believe, even if the giving of awards is done in good faith, there would still be some feelings of displeasure on the part of some employees whose work performances were not given recognition. Since those who received awards will be recognized and identified as outstanding performers, the implication could be that those employees whose efforts were not recognized are low performers or inferior workers thereby demoralizing them and causing them to feel insulted. There are also instances when those in power and authority give recognition and award to anyone of their choice as though it is their sole prerogative. Sometimes they use it as a tool for their vindictiveness. They know so well how their malicious intentions will affect other employees, especially deserving ones, whom they intentionally deprived of recognition. Either ways, the giving of awards will defeat the very purpose for which such a program was initiated and is being carried out.

And what if those who were awarded no longer receive recognition the next awarding season? Will that mean they have ceased to be efficient workers? Shall we also attribute their inefficiency to the program?

Let us go back to those employees mentioned above. What has become of their motive for working? Do they work only for awards and not because they are paid for it?

I have often thought it would be much better if management would just do away with the giving of awards. Perhaps, there would be less or no disgruntled employees. Perhaps, there would be no false pride that makes some heads swell. Perhaps, more sensible programs will benefit from the cash amount that usually goes with it. And most of all, perhaps, some incidents of unfairness will never see the light of day.

3 comments:

Vanity's Child said...

Very well said.

But if i have to give award to someone who has been deprived of recognition for the hardwork and initiative... that will be for you Kuya Goddy!

Goddy said...

Well, thanks Czel, for the kind words! They mean more from you than from anyone else. But lest I be misunderstood, I'd like everyone to know that I wrote the article not to clamor for recognition but just to give feedback on the program.

RhonB said...

Hi Goddy! How are you? Nice post! Nga pala, I have an award for you at my blog http://pin-k-oy.blogspot.com because I believe you are truly deserving of the award. Please to come by and check it out.

Thanks and more power to you :)