… and the reward goes to ..?

Ohh .. wait a minute !

This article has nothing to do with any award / reward function you would see on a television, cinema, but its more to do with the way awards and rewards are judged within an organization and how sometimes it puzzles me.

Today, I had been to a rewards committee meeting as a guest judge and at the end of meeting, I left the room with lots of thoughts to ponder with.

award-cup Few days before the meeting, I was sent an excel sheet with good detailed nomination information about  6 candidates from whom I needed to judge the top two candidates. The top two would be rewarded a certain amount as per the company policy. There is a quota of the monthly / quarterly awards which are distributed at the end of every month / quarter.

Normally, the rewards committee has few fixed judges and few guest judges. I was one of the guest judge this time and was asked to voice my inputs on who would, in my opinion, win the award and why.  During the discussion, I observed that the rewards committee makes a good effort and attempt to discuss each case and try to give their opinions on the face value of the nominations they are presented.

On a whole, the process of inviting nominations from Project Managers and having a meeting in which a representation from Sr Management, HR & few guest judges would decide who wins, is good enough in most of the cases.

Most of the decisions, unless the judges know the nominee well, are made on the basis of what is written in the nomination form and how well the arguments are written.

The whole discussion made me wonder, in the end, who actually gets rewarded?

Is it the person who has done a great work or the person who has actually written a great nomination form with appropriate arguments?

How do you ensure that the right person gets the award?

What I have also seen, is the fact that the award normally goes to the person who has come out of adversity and saved a project from a serious escalation or from a difficult situation. Example of this could be someone who has just handled a business critical Priority 1 problem and resolved it within the SLA timings.

Then there is one person who makes an effort all year to keep a consistent performance and ensures that escalations do not happen and also ensures that the crisis situation never arises. This person, although gets nominated for the award, but would never get it, because his nomination form would be a lightweight, compared to the first one.

Typically in the support project, what I have seen is the team or the individual that resolves most problems or most crisis situations is rewarded the most. While, in a positive way it is correct to appraise a person who has gone extra mile to resolve the crisis and save the project from any potential penalty.

However, on the other hand, few people who are proactive, keep wondering what they need to do to get a recognition? In few discussions with the teams previously, we used to joke that we have got the project to such a stable phase, that there is no more challenge left which would give the team a chance to shine above the rest. !!

In a nutshell, there are quite a few factors that would determine whether a project or a person would get a reward or not and few of them I could list as follows,

  • Type of project – If a project is stable and all processes are matured, then there is a less likely chance that the project would be considered for any award. Eventually, all the people working in the project have less chance of getting recognized for their work.  Effectively, since the project itself does not offer any challenges, even outstanding person would struggle to get a recognition for the work there.
  • Nature of work – If someone has saved the project some costs, efforts or time, then the person would be worthy candidate of being nominated for the rewards. Whenever the nomination is given, its important that all the necessary details are furnished properly. Moreover, the benefits must clearly come out of the nomination form. The words such as costs reduction, resource reduction, automation, efforts saving, crisis resolution  should come out appropriately and should be emphasized.
  • Glorify the work -  As I mentioned above, irrespective of how many judges know your work quality personally, the decision is made on the basis of what is written in the nomination form. So its very important to glorify the work and presented accordingly.
  • Awareness – One of the most important aspect of being rewarded for outstanding work, is being aware of rewards process and ensuring that the information is proactively sent with some good details as I mentioned above.  During few discussions I had with the teams, it was observed that the team ‘expect’ the managers who work with you to ‘recognize’ their work automatically without the team expressing willingness and desire to actually have one awarded. Its a misconception that the work would automatically be awarded without any advertisement or internal marketing. Unfortunately, its one of the most difficult part for teams to understand and practice.
  • Due attention by project managers – Its very easy for project managers to put the blame on the rewards committee about lack of reward to the team. The rewards committee is the soft target by many project managers who fill up the nomination form just because its mandatory and lack ‘awareness’ as I mentioned above.  The project managers should ideally go all out to ensure that all correct details are furnished, glorified and presented accordingly for the rewards meeting.

These are just some of the tips you could use to assist yourself in presenting your case better.  Finally, a quick word on what I believe,

There is only one alternative to hardwork, its name is ‘smart work’ !

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