Recognition is an interesting word with many definitions. Depending on which definitions you subscribe to, recognition can mean any of the following:
These are just a few kinds of recognition that we hear about, but what I want to talk about is recognition in the workplace where we as helicopter maintenance professionals earn our living. It is the acknowledgement of service, merit or achievement from the items listed above.
If you have been following Helicopter Maintenance magazine, you know that we presented Derek Weeden from DynCorp International LLC with the 2013 Helicopter Mechanic of the Year Award at Heli-Expo 2014 in Anaheim, CA. We are now accepting nominations for our 2014 award. This is a great example of recognition in the workplace. It is not great because the award was given by us and supported by the award sponsors, rather because Derek was nominated by his program manager for the award.
As with most things in life, we find a positive and negative side. We can draw attention to ourselves for something we did that was good or not good. It’s no different in the workplace. We can attract attention (recognition) by not performing to our company’s expectations, or, like Derek and the other nominees for the 2013 award, we can draw attention to ourselves (recognition again) as being the best of the best at what we do. How would you prefer to be thought of?
Positive individual recognition in the workplace means that the individual is exceeding the company’s expectations in all they do. That person is rarely, if ever, thought of in a negative way by management or fellow workers. That person is knowledgeable, proactive in their performance and always willing to lend a hand. I am deliberately not saying he or she is a professional, because what else could they possibly be?
But what do we do when our supervisor, manager, DOM or company does not embrace the idea of recognition? They find it artificial or expensive or think it just takes too much time. Believe it or not, there are people who think this way. Let’s be honest, we all like to be told or shown every once in a while that we did a great job. Some companies treat recognition as if it is a maintenance chore, like a pre-flight or post-flight inspection — something you do to keep things working.
Think about the last time you worked long days or weeks getting a particular task completed in a timely, cost-effective and safe manner. Did your company management think that the recognition you deserved was a coffee cup or T-shirt from the company store? That is not personal recognition. That’s all about the company and not about the individual. After all, who put in the long hours to get the task done?
Individual personal recognition by the company in the workplace should never be about the company. It should always be about the company’s employees and the work those individuals perform for the company. For individual recognition to be effective, it has to be real and it has to be personal. Cookie cutter approaches and company rah, rah, rah do not send a personal, individual message.
Individual personal recognition can come in many forms. Perhaps a handwritten note from the supervisor or DOM to the individual to spell out what he or she did and why it matters to the company. Maybe a gift certificate to that individual’s favorite restaurant, or buying them a cup of coffee at the local coffee shop and talking with them for a bit would also work.
From a company standpoint, think about the individual’s attention to the details and how they went above and beyond for the company. Making someone feel special is good for everyone. It can be done in offices and cubicles, on factory floors, in the shop, in the hangar and in the air. Just taking the time to recognize an individual on a personal level for the work they have done is a good thing. It might not always be convenient, but it is definitely always worth it.
R. Fred Polak | Editor