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Performance Management Performance Management Cycle

A Supervisor's Quick Review of Awards

Once a supervisor decides to formally recognize an employee, how does he or she determine which kind of award to grant? The options are many, and the purposes for the award can be varied. The type of award and the way a supervisor should grant it depend on:

  • the types of awards available,
  • the organization's objectives for granting the award, and
  • the employee's perception of the award.

Types of Awards Available

Supervisors should check with their agency awards administrators to determine the types of awards available in their agency. Governmentwide regulations give agencies flexibility in designing their awards programs. The types of awards agencies may grant Federal employees as individuals or members of a group include:

  • cash,
  • honorary recognition,
  • informal recognition, or
  • time off without charge to leave or loss of pay.

Awards may be granted based on:

  • suggestions,
  • inventions,
  • superior accomplishments,
  • productivity gains,
  • goal achievement,
  • special acts or service in the public interest, or
  • performance ratings of record (for individuals only.)

Each agency designs its awards program to meet its needs, and most awards programs include the types of awards listed above.

Organizational Objectives

Supervisors should select awards that support organizational goals and objectives. The questions below can guide supervisors in their awards choices as they consider organizational needs:

  • Did the performance represent individual or group effort? Many organizations include improved team work and collaboration as an internal goal. If a group rather than an individual accomplished something deserving recognition, supervisors may want to grant a group award.
  • What was the impact of the performance deserving recognition? Did the accomplishment affect an organizational goal, an individual goal, or fall somewhere in between? Accomplishments resulting in greater impact may warrant a more significant award.
  • Would an incentive program, rather than traditional recognition, be more effective at energizing employees toward achieving a goal? If so, in the future the supervisor may consider suggesting an incentive program, such as a gainsharing or goalsharing program, which can work well at focusing employee efforts toward achieving organizational goals.
  • What form should the award take? For example, would granting a time-off award cause a hardship in the office?
  • Is the organization recognizing its top performers? Employees need to know that the organization values good performance.
  • Does the agency have limitations on awards? Supervisors should ensure the awards they propose meet agency and regulatory requirements.

Employee Perception

While keeping in mind the organizational perspective for granting awards, supervisors also should consider the employee's perception and ask the following:

  • What would the employee appreciate as an award? Most people appreciate cash, but sometimes employees value other forms of awards as much or more. For example, a new staff member with little or no leave may appreciate a 1- or 2-day time-off award more than a small cash award.
  • Should the supervisor present the award publicly or privately? Some employees would rather receive no award at all than stand in front of a group of peers for recognition. Supervisors should learn ahead of time what the employee would appreciate.

For more information on awards, check out the rewarding topic area on our web pages .

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