The positive recognition came from the American Marketing Association in appreciation of my service as a volunteer leader. AMA’s executive staff acknowledged its volunteer leaders (at both the national and chapter board levels) with a letter of thanks. In addition, staff asked for the name of the chief contact where the volunteer was employed so AMA could acknowledge the company’s support as well. (AMA was smart to realize that in many cases volunteers relied on company resources and/or were allowed time to be involved in such professional development activities.)
The message conveyed in this letter was basically: We appreciate the leadership contributions of your employee [name] who served as [volunteer leadership position] … and we appreciate your support of their efforts in advancing marketing practice.”
What did you say your name was?
The bank I worked for was undergoing a merger, so I gave AMA the name of the CEO of the merged bank. I even forgot about this recognition until several months later when my boss showed me a copy of AMA’s letter that had been sent to the bank CEO. Not knowing who I was (or even taking the time to find out and respond), he wrote a note across the top of the letter: “What’s this about?” The letter was sent to HR, forwarded to the senior VP in charge of the region where I worked, sent to my boss’s boss, and eventually landed on my boss’s desk. My boss then asked me to provide a write-up about my AMA involvement for the higher-ups … and I never heard about it again.
Come on, how difficult would it have been for the CEO or one of his regional officers to have followed up with a note or phone call? (Someone in the executive suite could have at least whited-out the “What’s this about?” at the top of the letter, scribbled “Nice job” in its place, and sent me a copy.)
My husband teased me as I wrote this post, “Get over it, already!” I did a long time ago. I just wanted to share this story because it reminded me that effective recognition doesn’t have to be expensive or extensive in terms of what it involves. The irony here is that AMA’s letter gave my employer an easy way to recognize an employee … but the CEO didn’t care. That was the message I took away from this experience.
Have you ever been in a situation where employee recognition backfired? Would love to hear about it.