Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Chair recognizes... you!

Recognition is a sticky issue in the world of Fraternal politics. It's the one "carrot" that a group can use to keep people involved and interested. It's certainly and important aspect of any organizations program, for if you don't show public appreciation to your volunteers, eventually they will go away. DeMolay is much the same way - although it is often quite a sticky topic to discuss.

On one hand, we offer dozens of awards and merit bars to our members; on the other, we try to impress upon our members not to be a braggart about their achievements and to be modest in their dress (at least here in PA.) We tell our members to wear a single lapel pin, a single neck award or honor (such as the RD or Chevalier) and a single pocket jewel (such as a PMC jewel or merit bars.) This keeps our young men from looking like Swiss Admirals, but doesn't it defeat the purpose of recognition? Perhaps not, but it's something we have to think about.

Recently, I read an article by Mr. Tim Bryce over at the website Freemason Information. In it, Mr. Bryce discusses the need for recognition amongst most people. It relates well to DeMolay, so I thought I would share it here. Enjoy!

"For the last several years our Masonic lodge has been hosting an annual dinner to honor the county’s “Deputy of the Year.” Senior officers at the sheriff’s office select a person they believe deserves the honor and informs the Lodge as to why the individual merits the award. The Lodge then prepares a respectable plaque, schedules a dinner and invites the officer’s family, colleagues, and of course Lodge members. A lot of nice words are spoken on the deputy’s behalf, several photos are taken, and a small honorarium is presented to the officer who typically donates it to a local charity. The Lodge prepares a press release regarding the award and distributes it accordingly to the local press. It doesn’t really require a lot of work and it is the Lodge’s small way of expressing its gratitude not only for the job the deputy has performed, but for the sheriff’s office overall. It’s our way of saying “thank you” for their service. It is certainly not a lavish affair, but it is still greatly appreciated by the department for the recognition they receive. The honoree is flattered by the attention bestowed on him by the Lodge and his superiors, the family looks on proudly, and the public is informed of the good work performed by the sheriff’s office.
As human beings, we all crave some degree of recognition, some more than others. Entertainers gorge on it in a frenzy of media events, but most professions do not have such awards. Some people, who have confidence in their abilities, do not need such recognition and even avoid it, but many of us do, particularly in business where a kind word is rarely offered by anyone, including the boss. We may be quick to criticize, but we tend to be rather lethargic when it comes to issuing a compliment.
No, not everything requires a major media event to express gratitude, sometimes the best recognition is nothing more than a few kind words and a sincere handshake. A gift card, tickets, or some other small token of appreciation may be nice, but I tend to believe taking the person out for dinner or a drink, where you can personally thank the worker, is a nicer touch. To be even more personal, you might want to invite the person to your house for dinner. Such familiarity forms a bond between people and is a convenient way for building trust among workers. In this day and age of political correctness, such familiarity is often avoided as people worry they may offend the other party by saying something out of context and misinterpreted. Consequently, personal dinner parties, which used to be the norm in yesteryear, tend to be avoided in the business world these days. “Show me the cash,” tends to be the preferred alternative in today’s world which I consider somewhat unfortunate.
Regardless of the size of the award, be it a large prize or just a compliment, try to present it with a sense of finesse so the recipient understands it is a genuine and sincere token of appreciation on your part. Sometimes levity is useful for making a presentation, but there should generally be an air of professional courtesy when doling out such awards. If presented too lightly, the recipient may not take it seriously and even be insulted by the gesture.
We have cultivated a positive relationship with the sheriff’s office by presenting the “Deputy of the Year” award for several years now. The recipients appear to be genuinely touched by the sentiment, not to mention the families and co-workers. The award may not seem like much, but when it is presented by the master of our Lodge with a standing ovation from those in attendance, the deputy appreciates our thanks. It’s the little things in life that make it worth living. Saying “thank you” is one of them."
What can your Chapter do to help honor those who deserve a pat on the back - and to keep your dedicated volunteers around?
Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

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