800 371 Kamal Karanth

Most organizations announce employee Awards as part of its recognition system along with other systems of reward. Many a times these “awards” become far more a distraction than intending to motivate. In the work world, the awards that get dished out most often evoke mixed reactions which bring me to the question – how objective are organizational “awards”? I believe most of them have a heavy hand of subjectivity.

I was due to announce the annual awards. Once I’ve decided on the winners, it takes me considerable time before officially announcing the podium standees as I spend equal amount of time preparing to defend my decisions. As it happens, for every 20 winners, there’ll be 20 losers and far more bystanders raising doubts on the merit and selection process, not discounting the rumours of favouritism ruling the day. The small numbers of winners who get motivated are tragically outnumbered by the loud noise of distraction caused by the remaining of the organization!

Have you ever wondered if awards need to be taken so seriously that it weighs down heavily on everyone else (judges and jury included) except on the winners?

For as much as the jury aspire to remain impartial to the decisions they make, there is that tiny window which allows for particles of emotional data to filter through and tip the scale in favour of contenders who have imprinted a positive image or impression upon them away from the selection process. Picture this, when we vote for an actor of our choice, we are almost always influenced by the actor as a person as opposed to his performance in a particular movie. Otherwise, how does one explain the Best Critic Award – jury favouring performances which were rejected by the mass who paid to watch what they considered crap!

As for me, I have always been competitive and emotional about awards – it’s either I win or someone from my team wins, failing which my motivation quotient takes a steep dip! I consciously choose not to underestimate the “power” of awards especially when it is publicly celebrated in the presence of superiors and peers! The subsequent celebrations of winners on social media platforms further add insult to injury!

But is it “healthy” on a personal and organizational level to get overly emotional over awards as a sole form of external self-validation?

A few weeks ago I received a call from a senior manager of an organization who was adamant to leave her current employer because she was overlooked for an award. She was thoroughly affected by it that she launched a tirade with her boss and CEO. They must have felt the irk of their star performer that they promptly created an additional award which was presented to her on the day of the ceremony. As you rightly guessed…she changed her mind and chooses to stay on with them!

If you haven’t or don’t see your name in the awards’ list this year, will you continue to wait by going above and beyond the line of duty to win it the following year or will you turn into a sore loser and carry on bickering? I have a better excuse if you choose the latter: awards are decided more by emotion than by rationale and you are far too good to be even mildly distracted by it!

Perhaps organizations should try choosing the winners of their “awards” blindfolded via a lucky draw? I think luck is far easier to rationalize over someone else’s subjectivity!

When I am a judge, I choose blindfolded anyway!

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