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How to reward a great Job...?

Author hichriso
#1 | Posted: 29 Aug 2008 07:07 
Hello All,
I was wondering if I could pick your brains for a bit...

I need help with something to recognize a very strong and promising employee.

As a corporation we have forms that we issue for recogntion that go into files and are used for Perfomance Eval's. One is what's called a REX (Recognition of Excellance) Forms that we give for great work... she has received tons of these.. we also have Job Well Done Forms.. she has even more of these... We even have a program called the OPAL that we nominate staff for that is a Huge recognition for someone who has created or done something that has redefined or improved the company.. I have not put her name in for this, because the work I want to recognize her for is part of her duties, she just did them extremely well and is fantastic asset to our department.

Just looking for some ideas out there that I have not thought of, that will make her feel special and not something she has received time and time again.

Thanks very much,

Author KarenSB
#2 | Posted: 29 Aug 2008 08:39 
Hi Chris,

I adore reward dilemmas! What a fantastic position to be in...having to figure out how best to recognize achievements and accomplishments as so much of our work is focused on dealing with negatives.

While I will continue to "perk" on this for awhile (and will offer you more feedback if I come up with a some ideas), my immediate question is:

if the OPAL is a nomination for "doing something that...improved the company" wouldn't the way she handled her duties (extremely well) and her overall presentation of self (fantastic asset) qualify?

Just seems to me that given what you have said, she has improved the company.


Author ayaree
#3 | Posted: 29 Aug 2008 16:50 
Chris, I'd like to say first of all that I don't want my response to slow you down. I think you will get a more direct answer from Karen or different person - because I have an approach to this question that is a little more conversational/tangential.

I think the recognition certificates (those things you can put on your wall) do amount to something. But you obviously think something new has to be applied here.

What does OPAL include? If someone did something to impact/redefine the company and qualifies for "OPAL," that's not worded recognition on a printed sheet of paper alone, is it? Is there a budget that covers material rewards in OPAL ("gifts")? When someone gains or retains business and their contribution is clearly "all over it," then sometimes an organization would pay for a trip or an outing or something fun that the employee can do away from work.

What I think would be nice (and I can't remember seeing this) would be a CHOICE presented to an employee, a choice of one thing they like best out of a few options. I'm not suggesting a Cadillac as one of the options (not that too many people would take one for free lately), but let's use that in an analogy. Some people would want a Cadillac, others would think free tickets to a movie would be like gold. So the set of options could include 3 or 4 or 5 things to choose from (and they pick the one they like the most). Anything from a quantity of movie tickets to a quantity of chiropractor coupons to a quantity of car wash/detail visits to a quantity of weekend getaways to a quantity of clothing store coupons to a quantity of coupons for martial arts or music lessons or sports equipment for the employee's child. Some people think that money inside a card makes a gesture less thoughtful; others think money that someone took out of pocket for someone else to decide how they can use it is the ultimate in thoughtfulness. Use that kind of thinking. There is a spectrum to thoughtfulness, a spectrum to feeling recognized, and a spectrum to the material ways in which to reap the reward. Thank God, Goodness or Fresh Air that so many people are different and like different things. I think people should be offered a choice of a material reward that suits them, and this would be especially useful in organizations where there is a lot of variety and large numbers of people. But when the chips fall, it's not impossible in a small company to forget that so-and-so does not like receiving coupons for a free turkey. A choice makes sense in smaller worlds too.

Beyond the material side of things, there are other kinds of recognition. Something I have looked forward to many times is obtaining a copy of a company newsletter and reading about what people are doing. That is a context for words on a page to amount to a bigger deal for an employee if that person has been stacking up enough "good job, thank you" certificates. Creating a spotlight for an employee can mean a lot. I was an employee spotlight once. At the time I thought it was just to create a buzz and get people to integrate. Maybe that manager heard I was doing something to make a policy work, and chose me for the spotlight--never pursued the answer, so I don't know. So a spotlight of some kind works simply to create motivation as well and not only to recognize performance.

And really this opens up an even longer conversation about where the employee needs to go next in their work path. Maybe the written spotlight is one of the ways that person will gain recognition and also further advancement. Reward is also a chance to grow.

I don't know if that has any answer in it for NOW and for this particular employee, but maybe it has some things to think about for a larger picture and for some time soon.

Author hichriso
#4 | Posted: 2 Sep 2008 14:34 
Hi all..
Sorry for the late get-back, I was away for a bit of a vacation..anyway thanks for the thoughts.

To answer the question about what OPAL is, it is a program that recognizes staff for advancements that have improved the company, such as creating a new system process that stream lines things, we had an employee on their off time go around to fellow staff members places that were affected due to a flood and help fix their homes, some one created a food drive that set a new record for collection in the community..etc. big things that redefined someting about the company or was stellar in its award/reward or effort. The award is then presented at our yearly Company Manager's (and up to CEO) convention to each winner in front of 400 Managers, VPs and our CEO.
So I hope you can see it is pretty high up there...

My challange is to recognize a stong employee that has received a ton of it already... just want to make sure I stay ahead of their curve of "been there, done that".. also I want her to feel special, as she certianly is a gem in her work ethic.

Ayaree - thanks for the ideas , I appreacite the ideas, however we only give items like that for service awards...(5yrs, 10yrs..etc in the business)

Thanks again..

Author ayaree
#5 | Posted: 2 Sep 2008 16:33 
Hichriso, I don't mind if all my winbaggedness just isn't useful, but I do have to react with a bit of surprise with you, when you come back with, almost like it's a grammar rhyme, "we only give items like that for service awards...(5yrs, 10yrs..etc in the business)".

Are you looking at ways to present something fresh and constructive for a specific context - or not? Are the gift giveouts so corporately defined that your thoughts are a mere firefly at the fireworks? Or can you only do so much?

Even if we understand you can only do so much, then I've come to no better understanding of what algebra to weed through, because I don't have the reward do's and don'ts (whens and whennots) documentation at your workplace in front of me.

It seems like you are allowing rigid restrictions to create a "paralysis through analysis" condition, which is not necessary. If you are in no position to provide something that is bound to be a differentiator against that 10-pound stack of certificates that got filled out for this employee that is not within OPAL range just yet, can you make a suggestion to your HR, to your manager or above? Can the employee be brought off-site to their favorite lunch or dinner place in company with one or two boss figures (no venue too major, since that is probably for 10yrs of service with the company, per Chapter 3, Verse 12). I would hate for your employee to have to follow the path of least fulfillment and figure out that life at your workplace is another thank you card for a long horizon of time, REGARDLESS of her performance and regardless of her boss who has caught on to something and is kind of belted to the chair. If it is going to mean making her stand out one feather heavier because it may matter enough, then why don't you have a meeting and congratulate her or bring her out to a meal and expense it or send a group email showcasing her or stage a meeting where a group of people all get their current recognition and she gets an extra edge to her vocalized "mention"?

Do any of those additional suggestions amount, perhaps, to an infraction? (That is deviating from what is acceptable?)

Understand that I wouldn't want you personally to feel the full onus of the situation. But if you really think this person is worth your time and participation in bringing about a different way to recognize them, then I would, in your shoes, take stock of how far I would get with my readings and whether the person was easily replaced and whether the person is willing to take in stride the barely noticeable difference in recognition for what they do (as it's become humdrum and she is not OPAL material yet, and that's just the way it is and other ideas are nice, but that's not for this context, as the person doesn't fit that reward equation).

My ranting is done, and I send with my regards my wish for the best outcome for all.

Author hichriso
#6 | Posted: 2 Sep 2008 22:49 
yes..thank you.. yes we have a great number guidelines at work..it is a government agency and I have exhausted the current available recognitions we have.. that is why I am here.. looking for something new.. new ideas. I am very much trying to break the same old same old at work and come up with new systems and policies that further engage and empower staff..

If I am reading the begining of your response right, you were taken aback by my words.. my apologies, i know you were trying to help.. i was only stating that I was looking for a few crazy ideas i havent thought of yet..
we dont have a lot of money based recognitions right now, other then lunches (as you suggested), and I actually have done that..twice with her...
My intentions were only to find a few new suggestions that i havent heard of or tried yet...

thanks again

Author ayaree
#7 | Posted: 3 Sep 2008 18:05 
Hichriso, I guess you heard my frustration, but don't worry about apologizing for the words you chose on the level of my personal feelings. If I have a bad idea, it's not fun for me to find that out, but I can live with that on my neediest day. What felt unpleasant for me was not the absence of finding "thanks a lot, I can use that," but the absence of a solution, and I detected that in the kind of formulaic phrasing that you had. I felt a blockade of legalism and taxonomy, when we're discussing something that should not be like looking for a new design for an army tank.

I interpreted a very structured environment. And "government agency" makes me imagine a bit of rock/hard place, although I wouldn't assume that applies all the time and everywhere.

Since money is not something to draw from very frequently, then we can look at things that don't cost a lot. You've already done the dining option more than once. I'm going to scribble down some more thinking:

--What about something that is "all gesture," like a quick video to thank the employee. There might be some funny element to it that would make it enjoyable. That may not be something that is allowed at your workplace though, even if it is done off site.

--A couple of times I wrote poems for my team and included everybody in it, illustrating a virtue of each person - and somehow rhyming in a/b/a/b format. (Those came out with humor.) That's a longshot, but there could be a resident bard of sorts where you work.

--Any artists around? Maybe someone who is good at cartoon-style sketching? Can someone create a strip that represents a recognition for this person?

--Does the person have a workstation all to herself? What about applying an Easter candy discovery game to this, like with several variations of a thank you/recognition blurb attached to several wrapped chocolates or other treats? Plant them in several spots? (I thought of this after the idea of decorating the room or her spot -- maybe too conspicuous and too difficult to repeat for someone else and also a "violation" at the most extreme.)

--Maybe a gag approach? Something like paging her to report to a location or calling her and having her come to a location ("there is a problem we need to discuss, can you come here?) and then presenting her with some kind of recognition piece and speech in the presence of another significant person or two?

--A "card" that could be either purchased or created in house? (The home-made efforts can get really creative and, more importantly, original.) Determine the names of people to sign it and put in really great comments?

--Does the person have voicemail? A colorful voicemail left on her extension and conveying a thank you that way? (That might be unorthodox use of company equipment.)

--Does somebody have a kid who is a real dazzler with art? May not be an easy context (maybe sensitive to involve a peer in someone else's recognition piece.) But maybe not, maybe there is a proud parent that would love to find a context for their child's artwork to be put to use and it would not create political waves. Lots of contingency on that one.

--Are there ever potlucks for the dept? Any way to include the person's favorite kind of food into the event, and making that a nice accompaniment to special words that can be said to recognize the person?

--Snapshots allowed at work? Can you take a picture of her alone or with somebody special or significant in the company and attach that to a form. Not everybody likes pictures of themselves. But sometimes a picture from a special moment linked to another "memory piece" can really flare up the meaningfulness.

Maybe some of these things can be combined, and even combined with one of those familiar "forms" or a "third lunch with the boss" or some other kind of nice combo. And if there IS anything in there that fits, you could use your knowledge of the person to gauge. If not, then I guess the next best hope is that this generates other ideas in your head or in that of someone else reading here.

Hope that gets us closer!

Author hichriso
#8 | Posted: 5 Sep 2008 09:13 
Great ideas, thanks very much...

I am going to use one..combined with a thank you plaque I am having made for her.. I will then call her out from her work area and infront of the team award it for her hard work ..

Thanks again..

Author KarenSB
#9 | Posted: 6 Sep 2008 05:24 
Hi Chris,

I'm sorry that I didn't make it back here earlier. The good news is that I've been given the green light on a project that I proposed. The other good news is that I have an extremely tight deadline, it's a high visibility thing, it serves a greater good, and it is recharging me in ways that I had rather thought were long gone. It's this project, I think, that actually brought me back to this thread.

I'm glad to hear that you've solved the recognition conundrum. So I'll just throw this out there for fodder.

I believe that oftentimes the best rewards are those that challenge us to continue to bring the essence of who we are to what we do. I believe that passion defines success.

As I considered "the rest of the story,", i.e., OPAL not quite correct, government agency, etc., I had to consider succession, and wonder whether you have a plan for your department and/or if your organization has a plan.

Perhaps this employee could be identified as a potential candidate for a leadership role in the organization, and be placed on the succession path. Or if that's not feasible, perhaps the reward is the opportunity to take on a business challenge and let the employee give it her best shot.

For me, this type of project-based confidence from my employer is revitalizing, motivating, and speaks more about the value of my contribution than any certificate, monetary award, or other recognition possibly could.

Just two cents from an old duck with a new outlook on the corporate pond, because I'm working the project I've dreamed about.

Best regards,

Author hichriso
#10 | Posted: 6 Sep 2008 13:28 
So happy for you Karen.. it is successes like you are experiancing right now that seem to make all the #$@! worth while..


Thank you very much for your ideas, I love them.. they are built on the same ideas I have of rewarding and encouraging an employee's protential as well as their actions... all recogniton is imporatant, but I Love rewarding protential..

I have developed 3 seperate employee functional teams within my department based on issues that they have brought up. I put the people with the most potential on it with the people with the biggest concerns.. they seem to lead eachother extremely well I have had a Huge buy in for the staff.. The high potential employees get valauble succession training in dealing with peers and tough situations.. the ones with the concerns and issues get experiance in solving thier problems and learn to think as a team player (most of the time)

Anyway, again I am very happy for you.. cheers and thanks.

Author KarenSB
#11 | Posted: 8 Sep 2008 11:44 
To quote my superhero and possible mentor, Homer Simpson: D'OH!!!!

Unknowingly, I've been following your model, Chris, regarding functional teams and hi-pos. But I cannot believe I've missed the opportunity to weight the teams with non-believers, too!! D'OH!!!

I *love* experiential learnings, and good Lord knows (and proves daily) that I still have lessons to learn!


Author hichriso
#12 | Posted: 11 Sep 2008 06:35 
we all learn everyday...

best wishes with your new project..


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