Thursday, September 3, 2009

Recognition or Whining...?

Getting recognized for job well done is a good thing. We do it to encourage our kids, let our loved ones know we appreciate the time and effort they put into all the things they do for you and we get recognized at work for all sorts of stuff.

Me, I've never been big on working hard to get an award. If I got one for something I did, that was, and is cool. But even when I do blow the doors off of project or whatever, I don't need to be stroked or patted on the back; I know when I do a first class job and when I don't. And that's all I ever really need - to stand back and say, "Ya. I rock!"

A while ago, I was asked to work up the recognition packages at work for a long term project that involved folks from my training development organization, flight test, and the engineering lab; a project that I initiated, coordinated and basically ran solo for more than a year (to include middle of the night eval session at the engineering lab). All total I think I did up close to 50 certificate packages (something btw, I really HATE doing because I have the kind of permanent writer's block for the kind of language you put on these things; one of the main reasons I avoided the Awards and Decorations additional duty while in the USAF... anyways). I got them all done, went to the various off site organizations, presented the awards to those I could at their group meetings, thanked them for all they did, even if it was only supporting one small part of the larger whole.

Then I did the awards for the folks in my group at our staff meeting. The boss had words to say about how great we all did, I thanked everyone I presented awards to. And that was it. All the awards out, but one. Mine. You see, you aren't allowed to do an award for yourself, someone else, a peer or manager, has to. Mine didn't.

So what did I do you ask? Well, I stewed for a bit. Felt sorry for myself a little too. Then got over it and shot a short sarcastic email to my manager/boss that said something like, "So what's a guy gotta do around here to get an award as I can't nominate myself?"

Honestly I can't recall what my boss said to me about it. I think he apologized, maybe said he'd take care of it. But what happened was a peer of mine worked up and presented me with the award. He did a great job. Felt good to get it too. But why didn't the boss do it? I mean I'm one of his leads for crying out loud! Did he think it would show favoritism? Make him look bad? Have no clue. He's a weird bird that way.

Ok now fast forward to last week. Old boss is now in a "acting" promotion to his bosses job, and the peer that gave me the award is now my "acting" boss. All us leads (well the other 3 of us) are in a meeting with our "acting" boss. It's been forever since we've recognized anyone for anything, and since we've all been busting butt, and basically being the only bright spot in a bigger program fraught with delays and setbacks, he wants to dish out some awards. Cool. Always a good thing. Well in a finer moment of ADD, I totally space doing any awards to focus on the other alligators nipping at my heels. Boss asks if we got all the right folks awarded, and while my mind is racing elsewhere I say ya, we're good to go. NOT!

We all missed one key player.

At the next staff the awards are made, lots of them, but this one guy doesn't get one. In a finer cognitive moment, I note the fact but don't make the connection. Major mental open circuit.

Other lead and acting boss apologize for the fuck up, but guy is PISSED! Really steamed. Feels belittled, humiliated, demeaned, to the point that he threatens to move up his retirement date from later this year to NOW!!

Cooler heads prevail and he agrees to cool down over the upcoming long weekend and think it over.

I'm the last one to talk to him. He says his piece; I listen. I do hear him and can commiserate with his plight. I mean for fucks sake! I know how he feels and then some AND I feel like total worm dirt for missing it AFTER WHAT HAPPENED TO ME! One thing I really wanted him to hear from me, after empathizing with him, is that I would like the opportunity to make this right. Not sure if he heard, I mean REALLY heard, that...

Not sure if he heard it. He said it "probably was a mistake" (pretty sure those were his words), and ya it was just that. A stupid, regrettable, full on totally head up your ass mistake. Nothing more. Does he get that? Not sure. Time will tell.

But what get's me about this whole thing is this - ya it's nice to get stroked and recognized with your peers for a project you worked on, but is NOT getting that worth throwing in the towel? The guys a former Army Helo pilot, who served in Vietnam, you'd think he'd have thicker skin that this.

Dunno about you, but I think he crossed the line into a full on whine on this one.

Still, I think for my part, I need to try and make this right. It's the right thing to do. Even if it isn't a balm for him, doing the award, presenting it, not make a big deal of missing it, but really telling the part he played and that ya, he did a kick ass job.

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