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I work at a medium sized software corp. in India (abt 6,500 employees). This company has a star performer policy; basically they select a person from each "grade" every quarter and give her the award(some gift vouchers and a trophy). Well, not that I am jealous ... but a colleague just got the award and I sort of feel left out. I cant seem to get over the fact that I didn't get it.

Do these awards actually provide any benefit to a Programmers career?

Do other programmers think more highly of programmers who have won these awards?

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closed as off topic by ChrisF Aug 19 '11 at 12:41

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I think a silver medal on this site is more valuable than a star performer award :P –  BlackJack Aug 19 '11 at 12:11
dilbert.com/fast/2006-08-25 –  Peter Taylor Aug 19 '11 at 12:18
This issue isn't unique to software development - it's rife in tele-sales for example - and so is off topic for this site. Please review the FAQ –  ChrisF Aug 19 '11 at 12:40
On one hand its a peer award so that means the either her peers actually value her contributions or she plays a great social game. Introverts tend to lose out as we do not enjoy the office politics game. If your peer deserved the award then you should be happy for her. Worry more about are you doing the the best quality of work you can do and less about the awards you do not get and you will find greater happiness. –  Chad Aug 19 '11 at 14:54
I agree with ChrisF here: general workplace issues aren't on-topic here, and none of the answers garnered have provided any insights that are uniquely from a programmer's perspective. –  user8 Aug 19 '11 at 15:51

6 Answers 6

Not seriously at all

It's a game the company want you to play. Don't play it.

You'll go insane if you start working for those rewards, also don't try to measure yourself against your colleagues, it's another sure fire way to lose your reason.

The only developer you should try to better than is the developer you were yesterday.

Definitely use others as inspiration for where you want your skills to go, but don't measure yourself against them, it's unfair to both parties.

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A star performer award? Sorry to break it, but sounds like crap to me. Only bad things can come out of it. Working is not like a competition! What if your own work is not acknowledged? A common problem when working at a large sized corp.

A star performer award can only create jealousy among the devs at your corp, which in itself short-term might be good, since devs like you might actually want to get that award. Long term I think there are better ways to highlight eye-catching performances.

I'd say go on with your work, always improve and you'll be fine, whether with or without a star performer award.

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+1: It's complete crap. –  Binary Worrier Aug 19 '11 at 12:10
Peopleware talks a lot against measuring and incentivizing individual developer performances in any way, as this almost inevitably kills teams, thus in the long run damaging productivity too. –  Péter Török Aug 19 '11 at 12:18

The only "star performer" reward that really means anything to me is the one where my manager calls me into a closed-door session to tell me that I'm being promoted or given a raise. Small gift cards and public "recognition" don't really do much more than sow dissent within a local development shop.

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Award incentives for increased productivity don't work on programmers.

Watch this video on the real incentives that drive programmers.

These awards are to help recognize people in the company for doing a great job, but they are MOSTLY to motivate everyone to do more and better work to earn that award. At the end of the day, a manager paying $25 for a gift certificate and $15 for a trophy is a small price to pay for everyone in their department doing a 5% better job than they would otherwise. In Economics that's called incentives - and it works, but studies show it only works for non-cognitive tasks.

Programmers are actually motivated by autonomy and a sense of purpose.

On the positive side, it still is something you can put on your resume if you get it!

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There is a lot of evidence that incentives don't work, but instead lead to misdirected effort and decreased morale and productivity. –  kevin cline Aug 20 '11 at 6:44
@Kevin Cline: +1 to that. I talked about this with some some people and was shown this video. Looks like you're exactly right. Incentives for doing better do work, but only for monotonous, non-cognitive tasks. For programmers it's autonomy and purpose that are the driving factors. youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc –  Ryan Hayes Aug 20 '11 at 13:24

I don't think you should worry about it too much. Honestly, the award's name sounds more like it's been made up by a member of the administration than a member of your own IT team. Personally, I value professional praise by my co-workers more than certificates or titles. I wouldn't dare to judge the performance of a co-worker form a different field either.

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It's always nice to receive awards. I tend to take them with a grain of salt because I am more concerned about improving than I am looking at what I've done.

As far as interviewing, hiring...to me those types of things are nothing more than a blip on a resume I look at after looking at the work history. If you come in on the interview and do well it matters none really. They just might help you get your foot in for the interview before someone without them (given equal experience) but, that is about it. Even at that they are factored in very little.

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