My thoughts drifted back to former bosses and how I've been thanked for doing a good job on a difficult project or task outside of my normal duties. I had one boss that never did anything to thank me. That was fine, I guess, as at least I knew not to expect anything. I had one boss offer me a cookie for a job well done (yeah, he literally said to me "oh good girl, do you want a cookie?" and handed me a cookie--and he thought this was appropriate). That was more demoralizing than being ignored. I have had bosses that want to take me out to lunch on "Administrative Professionals' Day," or whatever it is they're calling slave labor now. It always struck me as poor way to show thanks to an employee, feeding them lunch. One, perhaps lunch on the boss made sense decades or centuries ago, but shouldn't an employer pay wages enough that the employee can feed himself? Two, if the boss pays for lunch, isn't the employee beholden to thank the boss? Doesn't that sound weird to you? "I'll take you out to lunch to show off how much more I make than you, and you also need to be thankful for it." Really, the boss gets credit for taking the employee out, and the employee still gets no extra credit for doing his job in the first place.
The Man asked if it would be appropriate to publicly thank a person and honor them with a ceremony or plaque or trophy. He seemed to like the idea, and figured others would too. I thought about it and disagreed. Publicly thanking someone doesn't give him any more credit than feeding him lunch. If the boss calls Sam to the front of the room to thank him and demands a round of applause from all of the other employees, it feels like the boss is saying "look how great I am, rewarding someone with clapping! see how great we are for clapping! clap clap clap! now Sam will feel all better about the five nights of missed sleep, zero family time this month, and his brand new stomach ulcer from all the stress we cause him! more clapping!" (Meanwhile, all of the other employees now secretly despise Sam for attracting attention to himself and making them look bad, determine to get even by making his work life miserable, and Sam starts looking for a new place to work a few months later.)
What if, instead of publicly humiliating a person, the boss or friend or parent actually thanks the employee or helpful person personally. Rather than demonstrating superiority or benevolence, the beneficiary of hard work says "Thank you." If my bosses were to come to me privately with "we understand how difficult that project was and how much time and effort you put into making the outcome exceptional, and we thank you," I'd drop my jaw. Wow. No dramatic (and awkward) lunches, no cookies, no gifts necessary. Or if The Man says to me after a homemade meal, "thanks, dear, for making dinner tonight. I know you didn't want to cook tonight, but it was very good," I'd definitely keel over. If this sort of praise happened every time I did something above and beyond, I might actually feel compelled to go above and beyond more often.
I realize that having pride in one's work is something that has to come from within, but being recognized by others is something I think we can all get on board with, right?
I'm not sure The Man agrees with me about how to best reward someone for a job well done. How do you prefer to be rewarded? How do you prefer to reward those who help you?