Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Undeserved Recognition

About a month ago, Ken picked me up at work for my lunch break and we wen to a local burger joint. He has Thursdays off so he usually comes into town and meets me for lunch and then we have date night that evening. Anyway, this particular day he was all smiles and I could tell something was up. I asked him and he just responded with "It's a secret." Well, I pushed a little more that day, but he wasn't saying anything so I gave up. Over the course of the next couple weeks, I'd catch him with that same goofy look on his face and ask what was up. He'd respond that it was a secret and he couldn't tell me. Well, I played along for a while, but then it just really started to bug me. I do not like secrets. The only time I don't mind them as much is on a special occasion such as birthdays, Christmas, Valentines Day, etc.

Early last week I noticed that everyone in my office had a "private appointment" in their Outlook calendar and my boss had called my employee into her office and shut the door. That NEVER happens. I knew something was up. I had remembered seeing emails come through asking for "Employee of the Quarter" nominations a while back, but I had deleted them and couldn't find anything that referenced the date. The more I thought about it, the more I poked around. I mentioned my suspicions to Ken and he was clearly unhappy that I couldn't just let it go and be surprised by whatever the "secret" was. On Tuesday, my boss sent me an appointment to attend the commissioners meeting with her since the taxes were to be discussed. I knew that she was attending a meeting that morning with the commissioners regarding the tax so something didn't seem right. I pulled up the meeting agendas and sure enough - the 2:00 meeting started with the public service awards and I didn't see the taxes listed anywhere.

I called Ken on my lunch break and was actually very upset. For one, I knew he was in on the secret and I wanted to know how they got in touch with him. I don't keep his number anywhere in my office and the thought of them snooping in my personal belongings really lit me up. Aside from that, I was dealing some emotional issues that day. I had pretty much figured out the surprise and I really didn't think I deserved to be nominated for Employee of the Quarter. I was afraid that one of my bosses had nominated me and I was transported back to the days of my youth where I was frequently called a teacher's pet, the spoiled one, the favorite child, etc. As it is, I feel there is a disconnect between myself and most of the people in my department. I've even had a couple people in the office "unfriend" me on facebook, one of whom later told me he thought I was a mole or spy and reported his online activity to management. (Of course I'd never do that - work is work and home life/networking sites/blogs are personal business.)

Don't get me wrong, I'm always pleased when someone acknowledges my hard work and being nominated for an award is very flattering. But I believe that awards should be deserved, not given out based on ones popularity. I did not, do not deserve this award. There are people in my department whose stellar performance may mean the difference between life and death. Those are the people that deserve the awards and public recognition. I tried to explain my position to Ken on the phone and he seemed to get angry with me. I couldn't make him understand how I felt.

Sure enough, when I walked into the commissioners meeting that afternoon, there was Ken. He had been invited and rearranged his work schedule to be able to drive over and show up in support of me. Moments later, the rest of my office and some of the supervisors from the Center walked in too. The meeting was called to order and the first item on the agenda was the award ceremony. They read the name of four nominees who all went up to the front, shook hands with the commissioners, accepted a certificate and posed for a picture. Then the HR guy started reading excerpts from the nomination letter for me. Some of it wasn't even true. I was given credit for things I have no control over. There were several things in the letter that I had forgotten I did or things that didn't seem so weighted in my mind, but there it was. I was nominated for and received the Employee of the Quarter (Q2) for Spokane County. I am now in the running for Employee of the Year. I received a certificate and a $100 gift card to Safeway and the office had a celebration for me afterward. An email with my picture went out to ALL COUNTY and I received "congratulation" emails from many people.

I felt like a fraud. I found some consolation in the fact that it wasn't my supervisors who had nominated me. It was a coworker and he didn't intentionally lie about anything. He thought I was responsible for the one task that I'm not and he got a few other things slightly wrong. He is aware of the volunteer work I do for Union Gospel Mission, Blessings Under the Bridge and that I've participated in several other ministry or charity events because I often solicit help/donations/sponsorships/etc. He divulged that information as answer to the question about how the nominee represents or serves the community. Someone gave me a copy of the actual nomination letter and I was deeply touched. I don't do the things I do for credit. I show up to work, do my job to the best of my ability and go home. I goof off sometimes and am not always on task. I get the job done and I take pride in my work, but I wouldn't say I go the extra mile on a consistent basis. I'm no different than most. I am selfish, complain from time to time, project my bad attitude and wear my bad days on my sleeve. I still feel that the award was undeserved, but I accepted it as gracefully as I could. I got some crap about it from people who think I'm a suck-up or a brown-noser and just tried to let it roll off my back. Some were joking, I know. Others... not so much.

I am flattered and grateful to know that I am appreciated and I know that in the big scheme of things, this isn't that big of a deal. I just feel so undeserving and I just wish someone more deserving was recognized instead.

And as far as Ken goes - I'm lucky to have him. He is so supportive of me and I love that about him. He also did a pretty darn good job of keeping this a secret from me. I'm not happy about that because, again, I do not like secrets. But he impressed my bosses and coworker who nominated me. I'm just glad I could tell something was up with him. I know when he is lying so he knows better than to flat out lie, but I think this "keeping secrets" thing was hard on him. That's a good thing. :)