Who Will YOU Nominate?

By Randy Gaddo

Back in March, I wrote about an initiative started to support my keynote remarks at the Parks & Rec Business Fall Festival on September 29 at the Shisler Conference Center in Wooster, Ohio.

This is a one-day conference for professionals in the parks and rec, children’s camp and landscape fields and the vendors and contractors who support them with products and services.

As I began to think about what I would say to this diverse group of people, I realized that the message had to be about “The Importance of YOU!”

After all, this event is all about YOU!

The point I want to make when I leave the podium is the knowledge that each and every person in an organization is important—indeed, YOU are important.

To support this theme, the PRB staff members and I want to use living examples of people, in the audience, who are making a difference in each one of these fields.  I want to be able to name them, tell what they did and have them stand up and be recognized.

I have no scientific evidence of this, but my experience has validated what I believe to be true; with few exceptions, most people like to be recognized for what they do, whether it is their everyday job, or something that went above and beyond the everyday norm. Is there anybody reading this who can honestly say they hate hearing somebody thank them for doing a great job?

Yet, invariably, as we all (and I am guilty of it too) get caught up in the daily details of work and life, there is too little recognition, too little encouragement, too little heartfelt thanks to those in this day-to-day business of delivering quality recreational services to patrons.

The irony here is that the thing costing the least is often ignored the most.  It costs nothing to say “thank you,” or “great job,” or “I appreciate all that you do.”  It doesn’t take a lot of time, or money, or effort and the benefits will be magnified far beyond the effort.

So, here’s how you “leaders who are readers” can help.  

I would like to pre-arrange one example from each of the four functional areas: parks and rec; camps; landscape; and vendors.  I seek nominations from the field. We will provide a very simple and brief nomination form on the PRB website.  

Of course, you can’t nominate yourself.  But you can nominate anyone in your organization, up or down the chain.

We will have a closing date of August 15 for nominations; after that the PRB staff and I will decide who best represents each field and will be mentioned in the keynote address.

The good news, though, is that everyone who is sent in will be recognized, on the conference website, in the magazine and no doubt in other ways we haven’t come up with yet.

The other message I will try to convey is that recognizing all the YOU’s in your life isn’t something that should happen just once a year, or on special occasions; it should happen frequently, at home and at work—not every day because that would become too routine.

But any time someone is “caught in the act of doing their job,” that’s the time to recognize a “YOU” in your organization.  This goes for your family doing their jobs at home.  Be sure to spread the recognition around so you don’t make someone feel left out.

I remember one occasion where, as a Marine, I led a staff of seven at a headquarters and eight more spread throughout the Southeast in a recruiting support role.  Once a year, I brought everyone to one location so there was more team cohesion.  I wanted to reward them for their work, but I didn’t want to leave anyone out. 

The conundrum you often run into with awards is that when you recognize one or two in a small organization such as I had, you may alienate others who feel they are doing an equally good job.  

So, I developed an annual award for each of them, presented on a quality plaque suitable for display. I recognized each person for something they had done that spoke to their skill sets.  In this way, I was able to recognize each and every person for their efforts that year.

That’s what I’d like to bring across in my keynote message; everybody in the organization contributes in some way and deserves some sort of recognition, even if it’s a simple, “Thanks for doing a great job!”

So, the “YOU” nomination form is on the website (http://www.northstarpubs.com/festival-you-nomination).  Nominations are now opened.  They will be accepted for either individuals or sections/departments in the four functional areas of: parks and rec; children’s camps; landscaping; vendors.  

Nominations can be for someone who consistently does their day-to-day job well; or it can be for someone who did exceptionally well on a special project; or someone who went above and beyond in some way.  Get the picture?  We’re all in this together, so let’s give some credit where credit is due.

If you have questions, feel free to call the magazine staff or contact me at the email or phone shown below.           

Randy Gaddo, a retired Marine who also served for 15 years in municipal parks and recreation, is now a full-time photojournalist who lives in Bay Minette, AL; he can be reached at (678) 350-8642 or email cwo4usmc@comcast.net.