Sorry for not posting the blog yesterday, but in some ways it was good because the issue preventing the blog from being posted has become the topic for today.

This is a common problem that happens not just in the workplace but with groups of all kinds.  It may have been the subject of a blog before but it’s one that needs to be repeated and it is the issue of recognition.  Yesterday this issue occurred at a non-work site.

Recognition of a job well done is a great motivating tool BUT only if it is done appropriately.  One of the most common problems with recognition we see organizations and groups do is create winners and losers.   We single out a person or an event or whatever and make it the poster child of a job well done which it may have been but there may have been other very similar circumstances from another person or event we forgot about or just didn’t notice and now we have done the exact opposite of what was intended.  When that happens, and it usually happens more than once, people become discouraged and give up trying.

Here is what happened yesterday.  A group was planning a big reception honoring an individual the previous week.  Two other identical events happened within the last two months honoring two other individuals.  The same group of people planned the events.  People very quietly and professionally put together two very nice and appropriate events honoring two distinct individuals.  There was lots of participation and many of the same people helped with both events.  The same people planned the exact event only this time leaders of this group felt, for some reason, this one was much more significant and pushed for greater participation because it had to be the biggest event.  Emails from leadership went out to make sure people were participating and, when they finally did, pats on the back were given about what a great job they did for this event, even though they had always been doing it.  This event quickly became, as one of the leaders said, “the only event people ever worked together on.”

It is important to understand that not only were the people recognized at the other two events reduced to insignificant so was the work and time the group had done to put on those first two events.  In addition, there was no clear understanding why the more recent event needed to be made bigger than any of the other events.  A single experience may not be enough destroy a group or an organization but it can be a start.  Whenever anyone or anything is singled out with any recognition or announcement, a huge risk is taken of people feeling hurt, angry or left out. You never know what is going on in someone’s life as to whether or not they can help or how much they can contribute.  Before recognizing anyone or anything, take some time to think if it is really necessary and, if so, how it should be done without creating a win-lose situation.

About CALMC Blog

Columbus Area Labor-Management Committee is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to involving employers and employees to preserve jobs, resolve workplace issues, and promote labor-management cooperation. Visit our website at
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