Who are we recognizing: the deserving or the visible?

My son recently participated in a freedom bicycle ride organized by TAF. There were two types of rides: pleasure ride of 5 kms and full ride of 68 kms. He participated in 68 kms ride. We reached early as we were keen to be present when he reaches the finishing line.

When we arrived at 9:30 am, the place was teeming with people. Hundreds of young men and women were returning from the joy ride. Few drum beaters were welcoming them to the finishing line. Photographers were taking pictures. Some were posing to take pictures with their friends. There were joyous cries of achievement; people were being congratulated.

The crowd started thinning by 10:30 am. Barring few professional riders, none of the 68 kms riders had arrived. By the time they started reaching the finishing point, the place started taking a deserted look. The drum beaters had left, sponsors had dismantled their counters and organizers were pulling off the banners and standees. In another half hour, even the medical van left. That’s when the majority of the long distance riders started returning; returning to an almost barren place, no one to welcome them (except their family and friends who have been eagerly waiting). Most of them were so tired that they just collected their medal – handed over by an organizer with a tired look (poor guy has probably been on his feet since 5 am). Most took a customary picture at the finishing line. And left the ground.

The contrast in the way these two groups were welcomed and celebrated pained me, probably because I was personally involved. By the time my son reached at 12 pm, there were few people. Incidentally, he was not among last few. Lots of riders were yet to reach!

As I reflect, this is not an isolated phenomenon. It happens often even in corporate world. Many a times, we end up acknowledging, rewarding and recognizing people who are more visible, are able to project and present their work well; albeit less strenuous and impactful. Needless to say, ability to project and present your work well is important; who will buy an excellent product packed horribly.

But, what about those who have really slogged it out and delivered results. Should we ignore them just because they are not visible, or because we were not diligent enough to observe them, or didn’t have the patience to get into details? Couple of thoughts for both managers and employees.

  • As managers, lets constantly remind ourselves not get enamoured only by the visible employees. Go deep and look for those who are also genuine, sincere, committed, went the extra mile and truly delivered the results. And acknowledge their contribution. It’s very easy to gloss over them! And let them go to a competitor that has a culture of looking for hidden gems.
  • As employees, let’s learn to derive satisfaction from work well done. And not depend on external motivation to propel us forward. Also, learn the art of showcasing good work done.

One thought on “Who are we recognizing: the deserving or the visible?

  1. I enjoyed this and it made me think and chuckle to myself…. my husband does those long bike races and its true about the crowds….. And in the workplace…ugh! there is always the person who looks busy and does nothing who gets noticed than the person who has completed a lot of work in silence.
    I will enjoy following you

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