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I'm the boss of a team and one member of the team does notably outstanding work. However no matter how much I recognise his hard work, others in the company ignore the quality of his work and the speed in which he delivers it. My subordinate is losing morale and looking to work elsewhere because of this.

Recently, other bosses started to send out e-mails relating to work my subordinate and team delivered, but thanking others for the success of the project. I acknowledge others were involved in the project but as my subordinate keeps reminding me, the other teams would have nothing if it weren't for us.

My subordinate keeps forwarding these e-mails to me with a complaint that we didn't receive any credit and I would like to resolve this issue quickly. I've mentioned this issue to my boss who seems to acknowledge it is an issue but isn't interested in doing anything about it.

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    My personal approach would be to call out the other bosses in the next management meeting, pointing out that their lack of gratitude is both rude and unprofessional, and likely to result in this key employee leaving, leaving them totally up-the-creek... Others will have better advice – JohnHC Apr 18 '17 at 12:47
  • By reading the title I got a feeling that subordinate is complaining without basis or he is the problem, but on reading the post it looks like he is truly not getting credit. The problem is with other bosses. or may be I am reading this wrong? – PagMax Apr 18 '17 at 12:56
  • It is a bit of both, he is given recognition from time to time, but more often than not he doesn't and complains. – professor of programming 웃 Apr 18 '17 at 13:13
  • @JoeStrazzere he is an outstanding employee, much more productive than anyone else in the company, but the feeling within the team is that the team itself fails to get recognition for the work we do, however this employee is constantly raising this as an issue whereas the other employees are happy just to accept this is the case. – professor of programming 웃 Apr 18 '17 at 13:15
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    Are you asking how to deal with the subordinate's complaining, or how to get other managers to acknowledge your team's contribution? Solving the latter should take care of the former, but it sounds like the complaining might be an ongoing problem with your employee. – Caleb Apr 18 '17 at 13:19
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Bear in mind that what the employee is lacking is appreciation. It's a basic need for almost everyone, and some people feel the lack of it more intensely than others. In view of that, here are a few ideas that could help, depending on your work situation:

1. Send around a group e-mail.

Send an email to the bosses saying something along the lines of,

I want to take a moment to recognize and express appreciation for the hard work and tireless effort of our fellow worker Mr. X. Without his aid, project ABC would have been totally impossible.

Detail how his work was not just important, but critical, for the project in discussion. Obviously, make sure your subordinate gets a carbon copy. :) You could even finish the email with something along the lines of:

Once again, I want to express my deep gratitude for his labours. If you have a moment to express your appreciation to him, please take the time to do so - as I have already detailed, the project would have been utterly impossible without his efforts.

2. Talk to other bosses in person.

Personal interaction is a major key. If you cannot interact personally with the other bosses, you will be severely crutched. Take the time to mention the work that your subordinate has done, being sure to give him / her all the praise, not taking any for yourself. Don't be afraid to say something along the lines of, "If you have a moment to express your appreciation to him / her, I know it would mean volumes to him / her.

3. Talk to your employee

Personal interaction is critical here. Be sure you don't just brush over the other bosses' actions; that will only put you in the same boat as the rest. But also, don't focus on their actions: this will only make his / her frame of mind more focused on it.

Rather, focus on the good work (s)he has done. If (s)he brings up the emails, look concerned; tell him / her it does concern you, but give the other bosses the benefit of the doubt. Put them in as good light as you can by suggesting possible valid motives, while not in the least discrediting the actions.


Just my two cents (which rounds down in Canada), but I hope it helps. :)

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    This is why I no longer have minions, because I can't politik as well as the rest... – JohnHC Apr 18 '17 at 14:03
  • @JohnHC, lol. Politics are everywhere, especially in big companies. – anonymous2 Apr 18 '17 at 14:04
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    By tackling the problems on all sides I think this is the best approach. – professor of programming 웃 Apr 18 '17 at 16:12
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Recently, other bosses started to send out e-mails relating to work my subordinate and team delivered.

If there is such a thing as a "weekly boss meeting", bring the issue to them. Explain that one of your highest performers suffers from a strong need to be recognized, and that whenever they get the occasion, they should add him to congratulation e-mails.

If you are close to one of the bosses who have worked with him, you might ask him whether he would accept to have lunch with the guy - not just to give him congratulations, but to get to know him personally. He will probably feel honored by the invitation. I understand your boss does not care, but maybe he could do that to improve the self-confidence of the employee.

You could try to understand why the employee needs such kind of congratulations, but chances are that he, as an individual, simply needs acknowledgement, and this is unlikely to change in the short term.

  • I'm not close to any of the bosses and we don't have a weekly bosses meeting. The subordinate suffers from medical conditions which I believe attribute to his need to receive more recognition, but he is right to point out the issue too. – professor of programming 웃 Apr 18 '17 at 13:32
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Typically this is how it would have been handled in my company.

  • Make sure you genuinely feel your team member deserves recognition and reward (irrespective of his medical conditions). Do not feel pressurized by his complains or personal situation. You have to be neutral and objective here.

  • If you want to recognize him, call a meeting with the entire group (including other bosses and their respective teams). If possible try for an occasion where this bigger group is meeting anyways such as all-employee meeting. Then stand up and recognize your team member for all his work genuinely (Assuming you can fit this in the agenda). If you have authority to give a monetary award you can do that too.

  • After you handed out your award, send an email to this group recognizing his efforts again and copy to senior management (your manager and their team).

  • Talk to your subordinate after all this and make him realize that you have gone out of the way to recognize him. He should now realize that this is the best you can do and what other bosses do is out of your control. He should be happy that as his manager you are standing up for him.

  • "...make him realize that you have gone out of the way to recognize him." Hmm, forced praise is not necessarily what someone in his shoes is looking for, so I'm not sure this is the best idea. – anonymous2 Apr 18 '17 at 14:03
  • @anonymous2. I can see why you see it as 'forced praise' but that is not what I meant. Idea is while you do you work, your subordinate also needs to know it is not easy. O.P. had concerns from both sides – PagMax Apr 18 '17 at 14:08
  • I get your point. I still think it's more important to condescend to the subordinate since it was (s)he who did the work. However, a good answer otherwise. – anonymous2 Apr 18 '17 at 15:38
  • There is a yearly company meeting where award plaques are handed out, and each year bonuses are given following an annual review. – professor of programming 웃 Apr 18 '17 at 15:44

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