Award ceremonies can be funny things. Not funny ha, ha. But funny peculiar. They are one of the few occasions when a cross functional, cross hierarchical group of employees and managers get to mix with a selection of partners, suppliers and customers. But, done well, they can be a powerful force for good.
I haven’t been working with CET for long, so the invitation to their annual awards dinner on 24th April at Aldwickbury Park Golf Club in Harpenden came as a pleasant surprise. But it shouldn’t have; because it’s just one example of the openness and generosity of spirit that seems to pervade the company.
The format for the afternoon was pretty straightforward. Arrive at lunchtime for an informal drink on the patio before sitting down for a two-course lunch. The awards themselves would be handed out after lunch and everyone could be on their way home before the traffic got bad.
CET has offices across the UK and it was great to see representatives from as far afield as Scotland and Essex. The distances travelled by some is testament to how well-regarded the event is and, despite the M1 lorry fire threatening to delay proceedings, everything got underway on time.
The first thing that strikes you is that there is a genuine sense of occasion. Yes, there is the renewing of old acquaintances and the chance to meet new colleagues, but it is also apparent that everyone is looking forward to the awards.
The room was full, with over 100 guests sat 10 to a table. For a relatively small company, CET was demonstrating its ability to attract a crowd and I got a sense of why when I took my seat. “It’s nice to be invited” says the lady from RSA. “It’s unusual in this industry to see this level of commitment to employee and client relations”.
Table 3 was home to an eclectic mix of employees and customers; including a representative from some of the company’s largest customers and two young ladies from the property assurance division – who shall remain nameless if only to protect the identity of the person who had a double helping of the chocolate cake!
After the food was cleared away, it was time for the awards. Ably compered by Bob, there were a total of 9 awards, recognising suppliers and employees alike. Somewhat fittingly, the winner of the commitment to health and safety award couldn’t make it to the ceremony as he was working at a client site.
No polite applause for this crowd. Nominees were warmly received and every winner was greeted with a standing ovation and rousing cheers. Even the quiet exclamations of “yes” when winners were announced were further evidence of the team spirit.
It’s easy to become cynical about reward and recognition, but we really shouldn’t. On this evidence, not only does it have a place in today’s business, but it should be a staple of employee and client communications.
CET. Good people, celebrating a job well done.