A missed opportunity for a compliment

Q: I work for a healthcare company on the south shore.
Recently, a vendor asked me to schedule a time to come to our office to
present an award. I explained that I would have to check with my
director and asked the vendor to give me two or three dates that would
work. We had had the same discussion last year. Evidently, the award had
been given to my director to give to me. I never heard a word. I am now
mentioned as a recipient for next year’s award before this year’s award
has been presented. I would like to think that the workplace would
benefit from this.

The question is, why would this recognition of the organization not be notable?

A: Thanks for asking this question. It sounds like you might be feeling a bit slighted and possibly rightly so.

In my opinion, this would be a good opportunity to share a kudos,
high five or simple compliment. “Hey Kathy, ABC came in and dropped off
this award for you. Let me explain why you received the award.

However, in some organizations, there are lengthy and detailed
conflict of interest policies and guidelines. I am wondering if your
director may have had concerns about a potential appearance of a
conflict. If, as an example, you are a purchasing manager and this was a
vendor giving you an award. This may be a potential conflict because
it may influence your vendor selection decisions.

If you have no decision-making responsibilities around the selection
of the vendor, then I don’t see a potential conflict. Some companies
are more rigid about this than others. Employers will sometimes say
that any gift or award given by an outside vendor, to an employee, must
be refused. Other will demand that any gifts, awards or other items of
value must be disclosed. Sometimes there are monetary limits. For
example, anything valued below $25 does not need to be disclosed but
anything above a value of $25 should be disclosed.

Either way though it was a missed opportunity to give you a pat on
the back. Even if your company has a strong conflict of interest
policy, your director could have told you that you were a award
recipient but you cannot accept the award.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Boston.com Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.