Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Thank Yous

I'm over thanking people for doing their jobs. Now, I know this is going to come off as snarky and synical, but hear me out:

I guess I should clarify- I am all about please and thank you. I say them both way too much to the point that my boss has taken to coaching me not to say please so much because it makes people think they have an option when really they don't. I kind of disagree with that premise, I think adding a please can go a long way in softening an "order" but whatever, it's not worth arguing over. What I'm over is giving special recognition to people for doing the basic tenants of the job you have hired and paid them for. I think that recognition should be reserved for special circumstanses- when they have gone above and beyond the call of duty. Some feel that giving special recogognition for the small things will acutally motivate people to do more, but in my experience it has the opposite effect. It seems that many people, when they receive special recognition, think they have already done something special and that they should continue to work at that level. They seem to forget that what they did is their job, so they wait for special instructions to do the same thing again.

This is all very abstract, so let me give you an example: if you are a content writer for a website, it is your job to write the content. It is the website's job to make sure their relationsship with major search engines is such that people can search for and find your writing. You don't get a pat on the back each day that you post an article, the website techs shouldn't get a pat on the back when they correct a problem that was causing your articles to be in impossible to search. But because they got one, the next time there is a problem, rather than buckling down and quickly fixing it, they remember that the last time there was a problem they got special recognitio for finding a solution, so therefore working on it must be outside the scope of their day-to-day work and it is placed on the back burner.

Another example is if part of your job is to scan documents into a database. Your supervisor has discussed this with you, but you don't like this particular aspect of your job, so you put it off and put it off, until the person who needs to retrieve the documents from the database asks your supervisor about it. So, you spend some time that day scanning the documents that have been waiting for weeks to be scanned. You shouldn't receive special recognition for the getting them all done in one day or hour or whatever it was, you should be reprimanded for not doing your job in a timely manner and having to be asked mutliple times like a child.

Nobody ever thanks me for cleaning out my inbox every day, or administering my programs to the best of my ability, and I don't expect them to. It's my job. I get recognized for doing that job on the 15th and 30th of each month when I get my paycheck.

I'm just saying...our efforts to be polite and encouraging are biting us in the ass.

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