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FCW : April 30, 2013
Commentary | BOB WOODS BOB WOODS is president of Topside Consulting Group and former commissioner of the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service. At FCW s recent Federal 100 Awards Gala, one of this year s winners told me how thrilling it was to get the award. Apparently she did not remember the terse message I had received from her the last time I was an award judge. I was reminded that we all like recognition and dismiss it when we are overlooked or rejected. The rst year of the Federal 100 awards, I nominated a candidate who ended up being chosen. I felt good that the person I thought was deserving had made it through the review process and been selected. My warm feelings cooled some- what when that person wanted to know what FCW would do the second year. "Surely there can t be another 100 deserving winners still to be selected." My chump alert went off. Maybe that person had not been the best candidate. The value of awards is always in the eye of the beholder, but responsibility for them rests in several quarters. First, the award- ing organization must give them for the right reasons and run a credible process to select the win- ners. Second, the person receiv- ing the award needs to have done something to deserve it and not just be someone who knows how to manipulate the system. Third, awards should be given based on merit, not rank. And nally, the process should be open and continuous so that nominators and nominees can always look forward to next year. When I coached Little League sports, my policy was that, within reason, every kid should be rec- ognized for something. It sounds Pollyannaish, but you would be amazed how many of those awards are still on a shelf somewhere. Part of creating high-performance organizations is creating legends and self-esteem. It s something you can t do with money, and those features follow us forever. Taking the attitude that having too many awards cheapens them is wrong. What cheapens them is giving them for the wrong reasons, with poor intentions and agendas. The other key ingredient to mak- ing awards meaningful is the initia- tors. Having received a number of awards, I think the only thing more rewarding is ferreting out the person who has deserved public praise for a long time and not yet been recognized. Finding that per- son, taking the time to write up the nomination, pushing the selection and seeing him or her receive the award is immensely satisfying. If you want to feel like the cavalry, give it a try. It will make you want to do it again, and it will make the next award you receive seem a lot more special. So when next year s Federal 100 --- or any other awards program --- comes up, take the time to re ect on who deserves to be honored. How should that list read next time? What agencies have been left out? Are there deserving contribu- tors outside the geographic area who are never considered? Are you doing your part to make the sys- tem work, and would you be proud if your candidate won? Be critical and demanding of those you nominate. Your nomina- tion should not be given away or taken for granted. Also take the time to tell that long-deserving per- son who nally got the award that you noticed. It will help him or her appreciate that patience counts. We all have a part to play in recognizing achievement and good behavior. Just remember to keep your chump alert system active, and if the alarm goes off, you might want to reconsider your nominee. ■ Who cares about awards anyway? If you think winning an award is gratifying, try nominating an unsung hero and see how good it feels when he or she wins Taking the attitude that having too many awards cheapens them is wrong. What cheapens them is giving them for the wrong reasons, with poor intentions and agendas. April 30, 2013 FCW.COM 17
April 15, 2013
May 15, 2013