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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Recognition of Work Well Done: Nominate an Employee Who Has Gone Above and Beyond

Taken from Public Safety Communications Magazine, March 2015
Written by John W. Wright, communications analyst based in Riverside, Calif.  Reach him at rfanalyst@gmail.com.

As a communications center manager or shift supervisor, we are often recognized by our own departments when our division or shift does a great job.  Sometimes upper management notes the accomplishments of our hard-working employees, such as supporting the mission, handling a major incident or working through a crisis, as a sign of quality supervision in our own evaluations or commendations.  But these accolades are truly the result of dedicated teamwork by the professional telecommunicators who work for you.  Now don't get me wrong, good supervision is essential to leading a quality team, but when circumstances require everyone to step up, outstanding work by the members of your team is how this is accomplished.

I have always heard that a good manager leads by example, but a great manager also recognizes the hard work done by others.  So, when was the last time you formally recognized one of your employees, or team of employees, for a job well done?  As managers, we often make mention in an annual employee evaluation, or a memo for their personnel file, outstanding accomplishments.  But I suggest that all of us should be routinely finding additional opportunities to publicly (even if only within the department) recognize employees when they go above and beyond expectations in service to the department or the public.

As an example, my city's PSAP in Riverside, Calif., holds a week of recognition and celebration every year during National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week (NTPSTW), which takes place the second week in April, to recognize the hard work done by all of their PSAP professionals.  This is in addition to formal recognition throughout the year at department events.  Management routinely nominates employees to the CPRA's (APCOs Southern California Chapter's) annual telecommunicator awards, which recognize public safety communications professionals throughout Southern California.

I am extremely proud that these employees have received many well-deserved awards from CPRA over the past 20-plus years that the chapter has held this annual event during NPSTW.  The department has also nominated several employees for the annual APCO International Public Safety Communications Awards Program (PSAP) over the years, and some employees have been recognized at the International level with top awards for Telecommunicator of the Year and Communications Center Director of the Year.  I know that many, if not all, of our chapters hold events, annual awards or conferences where there is an opportunity to have the work of your employees publicly recognized.

While there are many opportunities to recognize your employees (such as those listed above), it will not happen if you do not take the time to be a great manager or supervisor.  I know it is a bit of extra work, and our typical workload always seems to be greater than the time you have to do it, but no one will ever know of their exceptional work without you taking a few minutes to write it up.  Nominations do not require you to write the next great American novel; just describe what they did and the results of their hard work.  I have had the wonderful opportunity to occasionally participate in evaluating some of the nominations submitted to the CPRA Chapter Awards Committee from PSAPs.  Many of the top winners were from nominations that were brief, but also clear and concise.  Although, with that said, I also would caution you to submit more than, "They do a great job and deserve this award."  Include a bit of explanation and details.  Filling out the nomination form completely is always essential.

For the PSAP awards, APCO has a very dedicated group of member volunteers who spend many long hours reviewing nominations each year to select those who will be recognized at the annual conference in August.  The APCO Awards Committee accepts nominations for Telecommunicator of the Year, Communications Center Director of the Year, Line Supervisor of the Year, Radio Frequency (RF)Technologist of the Year, Information Technologist of the Year, Trainer of the Year and Team of the Year.  Nominations are accepted between January 1 and April 1 each year and nominees, or their nominators, do not need to be members of APCO International to be nominated.

Additionally, APCO International has a Technology Leadership Awards Program designed to recognize PSAPs and other public safety communications agencies for their use of technological advancements.

Will you be just a good manager or supervisor, or a great one?  For more information on the awards program, visit www.apcointl.org/awards.

I wish to personally thank the members of the APCO Awards Committee and all those who recognize the dedication and hard work of professionals who serve in public safety communications.