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Performance Management Reference Materials

Gotcha Awards: Recognition Improves Customer and Employee Satisfaction

This employee is the best I have seen at making children comfortable. Always professional with an outstanding appearance and demeanor.

Comments such as this one are not unusual at the Naval Hospital in Pensacola, Florida. Through the Hospital's Gotcha Award program, the commanding officer (CO) has the pleasure of reading numerous accolades submitted by patients and employees about hospital employees who provide excellent patient care and maintain a quality work environment.

Gotcha Cards

To recognize employees who "go the extra mile" to provide ongoing quality patient care, other employees or patients can fill out a Gotcha nomination card describing the employee's excellent service. The cards might describe enthusiasm, extra effort, initiative, a great idea, a professional attitude, or superior performance.

For the January-March 2000 quarter, there were 360 nominees, with 40 percent nominated by patients. Overall, since the program started in June 1998, there have been over 2400 Gotcha nominations. Each quarter, the program coordinator and the Executive Steering Committee select the winners and forward their names to the various department heads, who publicly congratulate them at meetings or training sessions.

Gotcha Ceremonies

The CO holds quarterly recognition ceremonies. These gatherings include informal breakfasts, afternoon refreshments, or dessert with beverages. The CO publicly recognizes award winners, and those with three or more Gotcha Awards receive mugs, tee-shirts, mouse pads, other informal recognition awards, or a time-off award of up to 4 hours.

Gotcha Bulletin Boards

Each Hospital department has a Gotcha Bulletin Board for displaying pictures of their "superstars." These pictures, together with a description of the out-.standing service noted, have become part of each department's public recognition and reward campaign. In fact, a bulletin board at the entrance to the Hospital has a display of current Gotcha Award winners to further emphasize the award's prestige.

Gotcha Results

From the beginning, the Gotcha Awards have been part of an overall patient satisfaction initiative to improve the quality of work-life and patient care. The results have included increased recognition for staff, and increased patient and employee satisfaction. In fact, for the past 2 years the Hospital has received the highest rating on the Department of Defense patient satisfaction survey. This survey compares the service provided by all military hospitals as well as some health maintenance organizations.

The results of patient satisfaction show in a comment submitted by a 72-year old retired Army officer: "I found myself short of Coumadin and out of Dioxin. I brought my plight to the [Family Practice Center]. They were receptive, courteous, and took immediate action. I felt like I was their only concern."

Lessons Learned

The CO and the department heads have supported this recognition program for the past 2 years and have watched patient and employee satisfaction improve as the numbers of awards increased. Commander Nancy Silki, Leadership Goal team leader, offers suggestions for creating a successful recognition program:

  • make it a team effort to keep the program going;
  • involve top management;
  • make sure that nominations represent legitimate, excellent service;
  • plan frequent ceremonies for celebration; and
  • encourage creative ideas for awards.

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