In my younger years, whenever I heard “It is better to give than to receive,” I thought it related to birthday and Christmas presents. Now—because with age comes wisdom—I understand that giving has a much broader meaning. Throughout my career I have been blessed to receive many forms of recognition: certificates, plaques, clocks, awards, and company-branded merchandise. I am proud to display the items on my walls, shelves and as I wear them. While they were always graciously received, most were accepted without any thought of the effort put forth by the giver. This lack of insight can mainly be attributed to youth and inexperience. Much as a child would prefer to receive a present than give one, my younger self sought recognition much more than provided it. This was probably a quest for validation, something needed to build a young professional’s confidence. Over time my “recognition bank” has been suitably filled, so while receiving recognition is still very much appreciated, my need for it has diminished.
As I have advanced through my career, I inevitably found myself in leadership roles. As my responsibilities grew, I was provided much assistance, so I invariably conveyed my gratitude by recognizing my teammates, coworkers, and fellow professionals. The more freely and frequently I acknowledged people’s efforts, the greater joy I felt. It is truly priceless to see and hear people’s appreciation by simply saying “thank you” to them, or providing them a letter of acknowledgement or a small gift. I now truly understand why it is better to give than to receive.
Over time, I found myself needing to do more than the traditional thank you letter or token of appreciation, so I took advantage of external recognition opportunities, especially those provided by ASQ. ASQ bestows up to 12 medals and two awards annually in numerous categories including but not limited to: publication of recent articles, authorship of books, young professionals who have made an impact to the profession, and for various contributions to the science of quality. Many of ASQ’s sections (geographic units) and divisions (topical/industrial units) also offer methods of distinction. Collectively ASQ’s member units offer more than 70 awards and 120 scholarships annually!
I personally have successfully nominated someone for ASQ’s International Inspector of the Year, nominated several people for ASQ Fellow, sponsored many people for an ASQ scholarship, and submitted a team for ASQ’s International Team Excellence Award. In addition I nominated teams for recognition opportunities other than ASQ’s. While the payback for my efforts was simply gratitude, their heartfelt appreciation sunk to my core.
Once I even went as far to nominate someone I had never met for an award! While I didn’t personally know Gary Griffith at the time of the nomination, his book, “The Quality Technician Handbook,” has been a valuable resource both on the job and in my classrooms for more than 20 years. In 2017 I decided to nominate Griffith for the Hromi Medal because I believed his book was the best source for this type of information. ASQ’s Hromi Medal recognizes individuals who have made significant and noteworthy contributions to the science of inspection and/or the advancement of the inspection profession. I was very thankful for his published work so I felt that the best way to honor and thank him for his contribution was to nominate him for a medal that ironically he did not even know existed.
Because I did not know Griffith, I had to locate him. Thankfully this proved easy to do through his consulting business. After exchanging a few emails explaining the medal, the impact his book had on me, and how honored I would be to nominate him, Griffith kindly agreed and also provided me some additional information to better address the medal’s criteria. Naturally he won! I finally had the privilege to meet Griffith at the ASQ Awards Ceremony in May 2018 and found him to not only be intelligent but fun and gregarious. He left a positive and lasting impression upon me so I jumped at the opportunity to nominate him for the Quality Professional of the Year. It is quite satisfying to see him on the cover of this issue of Quality Magazine! (Gary, please accept my congratulations on this well-deserved recognition.)
Not surprisingly many forms of recognition available through Quality Magazine, ASQ and other organizations are underutilized. Most awards cost nothing to apply for so it requires only a little bit of effort to make a lasting and positive impact on someone’s life. I urge you to please take advantage of them. The payback you receive will be well worth it.