Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Recognizing performance still important

March 3, 2009

By General Manager Fred Hansen

This year is one of challenges and triumphs. In February, we opened WES and in May, buses will be back on a revitalized Mall. Green Line will open in September and on December 1, TriMet will celebrate its 40th anniversary. We also look forward to receiving federal stimulus money for infrastructure and capital projects that will help put Oregonians back to work.

We balance this good news with the reality of what is happening in our region, our state and our country. FY10 must reflect 5 percent across-the-board cuts and reductions in bus and MAX service. This not only has a serious effect on our employees and riders, but on the entire region. And as we know, if the economy continues to deteriorate, even a 5% cut will not be sufficient.

Recognizing outstanding performance becomes even more important in tough economic times when staff is being asked to do more with less. With this in mind, it was time to rethink our formal employee recognition activities. After much reflection, it seemed that a series of smaller celebrations throughout the year would be more appropriate than one large Employee Recognition Week event.

Formal recognition events will reflect the times

We will begin these smaller celebrations on April 29 when I announce, and we all celebrate, the new Operators of the Year. At that time, we will acknowledge National Safety Award recipients. In May, we will celebrate buses returning to the Mall and in September, the Green Line opening. We will have a ceremony to announce General Manager Award recipients in October and will end the year recognizing TriMet's 40th anniversary. Along with these agency-wide celebrations, each executive director is being asked to find the best way to acknowledge their division's accomplishments.

Steve Banta and I also made the difficult decision not to have the bus and rail Ro(a)deo this fall. The time, coordination and people it takes to make this event successful is a lot to ask of our Operations staff who will have had an extremely busy year, and at a time when resources will be limited. I enjoy the Ro(a)deo for the opportunity it offers both maintenance and transportation employees to demonstrate their skill and professionalism, and I have no doubt we will hold this event again in the future.

Informal recognition always the most important

I have long felt, and continue to believe, the most meaningful recognition an employee can receive does not involve celebrations, meals and awards. It is when a manager or supervisor tells an employee specifically how he or she has performed well. I have shared this belief with you on many occasions and have consistently encouraged staff to find more informal and personal ways to thank employees.

It is critical to acknowledge each employee's unique contribution to the agency. TriMet's strength is its employees. It is no different this year. None of the changes described above alters the mandate to say what our coworkers value the most - a simple thank you for a job well done.

It is also important for us to celebrate together. Individual performance creates strong teamwork and strong teamwork results in extraordinary achievements.

I look forward to expressing my appreciation for your outstanding work as we celebrate our accomplishments throughout the year.

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