We all wanted to be recognised and appreciated for our efforts, don’t we?. Appreciations from others for our hard work will give energy to do more.
I remember some movie artist saying
It is not the money that motivates me, it is the claps and whistles from audience that keeps me going.
That is very true. Same thing applies to Software Developers also. We want our fellow workers, leads, managers to recognize our hard work and encourage us by some means of recognition. There comes the glorious Employee of The Year Award.
For those who don’t know what Employee of The Year Award is
The management recognizes an employee for outstanding work and presents Employee of the year award as a token of appreciation. Some people also defines the Employee of the year award as “The easiest way to satisfy one employee and pissing off all the rest”.
Let me tell you a small story of why I don’t care about this Employee of the year Award.
Few years ago …..
I came out of a meeting with great frustration where management announced the winner of the Employee of the year and few other awards. As you might have guessed I was really pissed off because I didn’t win Employee of the year award. Adding more pain to that, award was given to a person who is nowhere near to be called a good developer IMO. As soon as I stepped out of meeting room I left for the day and went home. However, my head is full of those thoughts about how come this shit happen?
Around 5PM in evening I got a call from Vinay asking to meet at our regular meeting place. I know that I may get answers to some of my mind boggling questions. So I went to the place where me and Vinay usually meet to talk about all sorts of things.
BTW, Vinay was my colleague and 4 years elder to me. He is smart, matured and a great philosopher that I know personally.
Vinay: So, you are pretty much pissed off. huh?
Me: hmm…(We both are very much comfortable to directly go to the point without requiring hello…how are you…Im fine…sort of bullshit)
After few minutes of silence I started expressing my frustration.
Me: He (the one who won the Employee of the year award) screwed up the project so badly that client emailed saying if the project delivery is as buggy as last few releases they are going to cancel the project. Then the project lead came to me asking to take up the complete responsibility to get it into a good shape and save the project from getting cancelled.
Then I started looking at the code he wrote and let me tell you I have never seen such a horrible code. Can you believe he wrote almost 16 levels of nested if-else-switch conditions…16 levels….and he is a 6+ years experienced Senior Software Engineer who is supposed to teach me how to do things.
I worked so hard continuously for 6 days spending minimum of 16 hours a day to refactor it and made it working as expected and pushed it into production. Now he became Employee of the year and I became “Stupid of the millennium”. WTF!!!
Vinay: Do you smoke? Did you ever share your cigarette lighter with your manager? Did you ever asked your manager how was his week-end? No, right? Then how the hell do you expect that award?? huh!!!
Me: (A pale smile)
Vinay: See buddy, many people know that how much effort you have put and made it a success, but unfortunately those who decide the winners are not aware of it. Partially it is your lead’s fault and your’s too.
When a team member did a good job it is lead/manager’s responsibility to let everyone know about it, encourage and give fair credit to them.
Your manager’s manager who decided the award winners have no clue about your hard work. They only knew the people who make noise, who talk more in meetings, who send emails a lot. They have their own problems to deal with. They don’t really bother who really wrote the code. All that matters to them is “Is it delivered on time or not?”.
Unfortunately your lead doesn’t know that “Team’s success IS his success” and always try to prove his own capabilities. Your lead never sent an email appreciating what you did.
Me: hmm..How come it became my fault too??
Vinay: Do you remember sometime back we were talking about someone who always show off too much and you said “I am not interested in doing showoff, my work will speak on behalf of me”?. Well, now that you know it doesn’t work that way.
Just imagine you went to a theatre to watch a movie and there is a long queue for tickets. Luckily you saw one of your friend who is working in that theatre.You asked him for tickets and he took you along with him to the counter directly and get the tickets for you. You are very happy, right?
Me: Yes, of course.
Vinay: You just took away the possibility of getting tickets from someone who is standing in the queue for a long time. Did you even think about it?
Vinay: See, that’s how things work. You just think about how to get things done for yourself which may unknowingly cause troubles to others.In these corporate offices also everyone is busy in getting things for themselves. Nobody is going to think like “Oh, that guy worked hard, so he should get better hike”. Everyone thinks they are doing the best job and everyone thinks they should be getting the awards.
Even your lead/managers are also employees like you and may be they are also trying their level best to get Employee of the year award. If they give Employee of the year award to your lead/manager I doubt they are going to say “Oh give it to my team member, he worked so harder than me”.
It is your responsibility to let people know what you achieved. Assuming your lead/manager or any peers will do it for you is foolish.
Vinay: See, there is nothing wrong in telling what you did, in fact it is very much needed in this corporate hierarchical structure.
Me: I understand now.
Vinay: Ok, let’s put aside your disappointment for a moment and talk about the Employee of the year award concept itself.
Vinay: So, you think Employee of the year award is very important and it should always be given to the people who actually deserves it.
Me: Yes, of course.
Vinay: Ok… generally there will be one or two highly talented people in companies who always do great things every year. In that case that award most likely should go to same person..isn’t it?
Me: But normally if a person gets that award this year, it is very unlikely he will get it in next few years.
Vinay: Why not?
Me: Probably management think that they have already recognised their efforts and acknowledged by giving this award and no need to give it every year. Instead they can give it to others so that others also get motivated and work hard.
Vinay: So, that means Employee of the year award may not really means recognizing someone’s efforts in that specific year. Probably it is a means for employers to satisfy employees without giving much salary hike!! Who knows??!!
Me: May be. But doesn’t it make us feel good about our achievement?
Vinay: Aah..now we reach the important point of discussion. So, you want someone else to recognize your work so that you will be happy?
Me: hmm..yes, what’s wrong with that?
Vinay: Let’s say you have painted a beautiful picture and ask someone to give feedback on it, then it will always be his perception of that picture based on his knowledge level, his taste of beauty and his level of intelligence. He can never see that picture the way you see it. He may never be able to understand the beauty of that picture through his taste for aesthetics. Only YOU can see the beauty of something you created in its entirety. When you know you did great then just feel great about it.
Don’t ever let someone else’s judgement of your work defines your happiness.
Me: Got it. We shouldn’t be doing something only to impress others. If someone else appreciates our work then it’s just bonus only.
Vinay: Yup. Just because they didn’t realize the importance of your work, it doesn’t become nothing. Still the people will come to you for help not to the Employee of the year award winner because everyone knows who can help to solve their problem. But going forward let them know your importance.
I should thank Vinay for making it clear to me. After that day I never again worried about those shitty awards or performance ratings.
Oh did I tell you about the tales of my performance appraisal meetings?? They are very amusing. Wait for it next!!.