Employee awards do no good

Our company gives out quarterly awards for, er, various things. It’s voted upon by the employees and not the management. This quarter, I got an award for “Personifying the Trisoft value – Knowledge Improvement“. In plain English, some people actually thought that my relentless bombarding of everyone’s email boxes with articles on information architecture, usability, navigation, design, HTML, business strategy, marketing, etc. improved the knowledge levels of employees. Wooooohoooo! Of course, people who have worked with me in other companies know that my habit of forwarding useful articles is nothing new. Heck, Prem (current Webmaster of ciol.com) has a 144K text file of just links that I’ve sent him while I worked there.  

Do I believe in awards? No, not one bit. Note that I didn’t say I didn’t believe in recognition. Recognition is very important. But things like “Employee of the month”, etc. are just a bad idea. They make one person happy for a bit and make all the rest of the employees unhappy for longer (as they wonder why they are not the employees of the month). Even awards voted by colleagues don’t work. They just turn the exercise into a political game and the biggest department in the company usually decides who will get an award. For all you know, “Mr. Hardworking” is probably the quiet accountant in the small Finance team, but of course nobody else is capable of understanding what he does. So he doesn’t get the award. What happens instead? If the marketing department in the company is the biggest, that department’s voting block influences the outcome. Just like Parliament. Real sad. Of course, if you’d read Peopleware, you wouldn’t be making such mistakes.

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