Employee of the Year
Every once in a while, I worked in a place that instituted some type of employee of the month/quarter/whatever award system. While I'm all in favor of rewarding employees who go above and beyond, I've found that the effectiveness tends to breakdown over time if it becomes a formal, routine practice. It's especially hard to keep it up you're in a smaller company, where a year into your employee recognition program you may be running out of employees to recognize. Then you start doing the "can someone win more than once?" routine, or the "wait a minute, we haven't recognized anyone from marketing yet" nose-counting.
Still, I like employee recognition just fine, and I was thinking of it when I heard on the news the other day that the woman accused of trying to sell Coca-Cola secrets to Pepsi is on trail, and facing up to 10 years in prison if she's found guilty. From an AP Wire story by Harry Weber I learned that Joya Williams is being described by a co-conspirator as being ticked off at her boss, and hoping to make big bucks by selling the secret to Coke's Blak drink to rival Pepsi.
I was handed a free sample of Blak last fall, and all I can say is that Coke would have been playing it smart if they'd deliberately slipped the secret to Blak to Pepsi, and got them investing down this path. But that opinion is neither hear nor there.
Joya Williams may be found not-guilty, but I'm guessing she's not a candidate for Employee of the Year anytime soon.
Nor is the woman charged with embezzling nearly $6.9 million from a Massachusetts construction firm. There was an extensive profile of Angela Platt in The Boston Globe a while back, and yesterday they had a story by Raja Mishra that she's now been charged.
While Ms. Platt was pursuing her non-candidacy for Employee of the Year she apparently:
...indulged her love of Halloween by purchasing a 20-foot-tall, smoke-spewing dragon statue, mechanical talking trees, and a life-sized Al Capone statute [sic], federal prosecutors said...Prosecutors [also] said Platt threw lavish parties and flaunted her wealth, despite a $40,000 salary. For her brother's planned wedding in 2006, she hired legendary singer/songwriter Burt Bacharach and dancers from "Riverdance."
Her former boss, who will not be nominating Ms. Platt for Employee of the Year, has been able to recover some of his losses through the real estate and equine investments Platt made. But who wants a life-sized Al Capone statue? And I don't imagine he got an invite to the brother's wedding and see Burt Bacharach or the Riverdancers. What a shame.
My final pick as non-Employee of the Year is the nit-wit out in Iowa, who has received wide acclaim for trying to collect unemployment benefits after she was fired for keeping a work diary - written on a company PC, printed on a company printer - in which she detailed how she spent all her time at work pretending to work. Her manager found the diary, which included Dear Diary gems about how great it was that the very act of typing the diary looked like work.
She is quoted in an article I saw in Sunday's Boston Herald as having written, "I am only here for the money and, lately, for the printer access. I haven't really accomplished anything in a long while...and I am still getting paid more than I ever have at a job before. I can shop online, play games and read message boards and still get paid for it."
I actually feel a twinge bad for Emmalee Bauer. She's definitely not Employee of the Year material, but she may well have been aggrandizing an occasional work-dodge. I heard on one news program that she had been considering turning her journal into a book on goldbricking. Yes, I feel a teensy twinge for Emmalee - but I will also never hire her.
The Emmalee story reminded me of a fellow I interviewed for a part time admin job at an arts-related non-profit. The guy bragged that at his last job he'd pretended to work while writing poetry. Was this intended to impress upon us the fact that he was not just a job seeker but also a devoted artiste? Truly, I almost laughed out loud when he made this statement.
In any case, we all need to keep in mind that employee recognition goes both ways. Yes, we still need to recognize the great ones, but it sounds like there's a parallel need to keep your eyes and ears open so that you'll recognize the near-do-wells, too.