This Sunday night, tens of millions in the US and many more around the globe will gather around their televisions (and computers?) to watch the 82nd Annual Academy Awards. According to ‘The Academy,’ “The Oscars reward the previous year’s greatest cinema achievements as determined by some of the world’s most accomplished motion picture artists and professionals…..Awards are presented for outstanding individual or collective efforts in up to 25 categories.” It is not surprising that an industry that thrives on image and marketing would create an event that generates huge press and attention by highlighting its annual accomplishments. What is surprising is how few organizations (outside of sales) within enterprises take that same opportunity to call attention to their “greatest achievements” and present awards for “outstanding individual or collective efforts.”
There is something to be said about performance metrics and bonus objectives, but there’s also something to be said about awards and recognition. They make a difference to people. They have in my own work experience. One of my employers used to hold an awards ceremony during our annual meetings to recognize top performers. The awards were generally small tokens (iPods, cash prizes, and award certificates) considering the effort that was needed to achieve them, but they were, nonetheless, a nice acknowledgement that hard work and great work meant something to the organization and its leaders. Contrast that with the leaders at another employer of mine that seemed unable to ever acknowledge the achievements of top performing individuals and teams. These things make a difference
When taken seriously, awards and recognition can serve as that extra special motivation to get a staff more focused on results and drive top performers to new heights, particularly in this time of tight budgets and pay freezes. When given for fun, awards and recognition can help teams bond by bringing them together in a more social and relaxed setting. With a little bit of thought, both approaches can be combined to great effect.
CPOs and other procurement leaders who have yet to develop a series of team awards, have a great opportunity to do so this year. The type and number of awards can be as easy/fun/interesting/deliberate/etc. as needed. Too much on your plate? No problem. Assign a top lieutenant and then ask for a few volunteers (from your staff and maybe one or two from your functional partners in HR, finance, or engineering) to form a new procurement ‘Academy’ to help lead the process. Make sure to stay involved since the awards will only achieve their desired results if department leadership appears fully-engaged. The prizes should match the tone of the awards and organization. If budget is an issue, make sure to leverage your creativity and internal relationships. Cash may be king, but 4 or 8 hours of extra PTO are pretty nice too. Lunch with the CFO would be a stellar reward for the person who drove the largest savings number. How about coffee with the COO for the top project team or a personal note and plaque awarded by the CEO to the department’s 2010 MVP?
Awards can be for performance, speed, degree of difficulty, effort, quality or anything that is prized by the enterprise. Don’t be afraid to start small (i.e. an “MVP of the Month” or one “Team of the Quarter”). However you proceed, I suggest that the awards be given regularly (annually, quarterly, etc.) and without fail, that procurement leadership is deliberate in making sure the process is inclusive, and that under no circumstances will the band be allowed to start playing until the winners finish their speeches.
There’s No Business like Procurement Business!
I will guess that many of you have participated in internal procurement awards programs. We welcome your comments and ideas on the process, the types of awards and prizes, and any general thoughts you may have on the subject. Likewise, I’d be happy to weigh in on your own “Oscars” as either critic or judge if you drop me a note.
Deep Thought: Would Sylvester Stallone be viewed as the James Dean (or J.D. Salinger) of his generation if he had retired on this night instead of treating his fans to several more decades of “entertainment?”