Recognition that makes their dayBy Cindy Ventrice
A director in a network marketing company competes for the President's Circle Award. After a year of hard work he wins. He is the top sales producer for his region! At the annual conference, the president of the company presents him with a plaque. When he returns to his seat and looks at the plaque, he discovers that his name has been misspelled.
When a woman's husband becomes top salesman, his company sends her a gigantic gift basket with a note of congratulations. What the company doesn't know is that the woman resents the many overtime hours with no days off that it has taken her husband to make top salesman. The fruit basket is a reminder of all the hours he has spent away from the family.
A manager of a Fortune 500 company is called into his VP's office where the VP yells at him for ten minutes straight. When the VP is finished and the manager is heading out the door, the VP says, "Oh by the way, here is your ten-year anniversary pin. Congratulations."
Employees have told me dozens of recognition horror stories. One of the lessons I have taken away from their stories is that formal recognition that makes someone's day requires preparation, planning, and the best intentions.
At some point, you will probably be called upon to present formal recognition: a service, peer-nominated, or performance award. Assuming that you think recognition is important and that you would never tag it on as an afterthought, what can you do to make the award meaningful and memorable?
Do your homework
A formal award presentation requires some research. At the most fundamental level, if you don't know how to spell or pronounce the recipient's name, you will ruin any recognition value the award has. To make an award really meaningful, you have to dig a little deeper and answer a few key questions. What do you know about the employee? Can you describe why they are receiving the award? Can you provide details that will give the award substance?
Consider what they value
Many times the award is pre-selected. If you have some say in the selection make sure the award is something the employee will value. An overworked employee whose family time has been compromised for the past few months would probably prefer an afternoon off and a gift certificate for a family dinner rather than a giant fruit basket.
Tell a great story
People love to hear a great story. A public award ceremony is the perfect venue for spinning a yarn with the recipient as the hero. Talk about the significance of the award and the values it represents. Tell how the recipient embodies those values. Is there a story behind how the recipient was chosen? Can anyone else add to the telling of the story? Whenever possible create drama.
Years ago I received an award. I didn't know ahead of time that I had been selected. The person making the presentation began by reading the criteria for the award; consistent concern for customers, high level of product knowledge, and a willingness to go the extra mile to ensure excellence in customer service. Then, she read a lengthy client quote. At one point the quote became so specific I recognized the client and realized I was the winner. It was a very special moment.
Fifteen years later the award still has significance for me. I know what the company valued and know someone put a considerable amount of effort into verifying that I had met their standards. The finely crafted presentation made the award meaningful.