An "Awarding" Experience

I belong to a group that will have its annual awards ceremony in August. Somehow I ended up on the awards ceremony committee, which means aside from planning food, date, and time for the ceremony, we're also responsible for nominating people for awards.

Thank heavens we all get along, because what could have been a nasty meeting instead turned into a laughter-filled one. The issue was whether or not to give everyone an award. I (surprise, surprise) came down on the side that we're not 2nd graders and adults are perfectly capable of attending an awards banquet and not walking out with an award and not feeling suicidal about it. (And if they do feel suicidal about it they have deeper issues and it's not my problem.) I also think it detracts from the specialness of the real awards if an obvious effort is made to ensure everyone gets a ribbon. Upset because you didn't get an award? Well hey--then there's your motivation to work harder next year.

There are two women on the committee who in all seriousness are probably among the most kind hearted, generous, and giving individuals I've ever met. Just lovely, lovely people. And they gently pointed out that just because I didn't need a ribbon, doesn't mean it wouldn't mean a lot to someone else. 

Good point. We reached a compromise where we will have "major" awards, and then perhaps quick recognition of members for various contributions and achievements, without going overboard on the "filler" awards.

At one point everyone was laughing at me for being such a hard-ass and I told them this is the reason I don't have children. "Didn't mommy just give you a hug yesterday, dear? Don't be needy." They were howling.

Of course, I'm also the person who ADORES the anti-motivational posters at  My favorite is one that has a large picture of golden french fries in the bright red McDonalds box with the big old "M" trademark on the box. The caption underneath reads: Not Everyone Grows Up to be An Astronaut.


What's your take on the culture of awards? Are we overdoing it with the "everybody is a winner" mentality or are awards simple yet effective ways to motivate and boost morale?