A missed opportunity for a compliment

Q: I work for a healthcare company on the south shore. Recently, a vendor asked me to schedule a time to come to our office to present an award. I explained that I would have to check with my director and asked the vendor to give me two or three dates that would work. We had had the same discussion last year. Evidently, the award had been given to my director to give to me. I never heard a word. I am now mentioned as a recipient for next year’s award before this year’s award has been presented. I would like to think that the workplace would benefit from this.

The question is, why would this recognition of the organization not be notable?

A: Thanks for asking this question. It sounds like you might be feeling a bit slighted and possibly rightly so.

In my opinion, this would be a good opportunity to share a kudos, high five or simple compliment. “Hey Kathy, ABC came in and dropped off this award for you. Let me explain why you received the award. Congrats!”

However, in some organizations, there are lengthy and detailed conflict of interest policies and guidelines. I am wondering if your director may have had concerns about a potential appearance of a conflict. If, as an example, you are a purchasing manager and this was a vendor giving you an award. This may be a potential conflict because it may influence your vendor selection decisions.

If you have no decision-making responsibilities around the selection of the vendor, then I don’t see a potential conflict. Some companies are more rigid about this than others. Employers will sometimes say that any gift or award given by an outside vendor, to an employee, must be refused. Other will demand that any gifts, awards or other items of value must be disclosed. Sometimes there are monetary limits. For example, anything valued below $25 does not need to be disclosed but anything above a value of $25 should be disclosed.

Either way though it was a missed opportunity to give you a pat on the back. Even if your company has a strong conflict of interest policy, your director could have told you that you were a award recipient but you cannot accept the award.


by Pattie Hunt Sinacole, First Beacon Group LLC

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