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UnThink Solar
a div of Impress Labs
811 Sansome St
San Francisco, CA 94111
United States

No. of Employees: 33
Phone: 415-395-0941
Website:

And the Solar Fred Award Goes to….


From a solar marketing and advocacy perspective, I'm a big fan of public peer awards. They’re important for any industry, especially for a difficult and growing industry like solar.

I bring up this award topic now because I’ve just learned that Heather Andrews (a.k.a. “@PVaddict”) has just won a posthumous Woman in Solar Energy Award from ASES. (More about Heather here.)  

I like the idea of solar peer awards for a few reasons. First, peer awards give public recognition to recipients who have struggled for the industry or internally for their solar business, and I think we all understand how meaningful it is when friends and colleagues publicly recognize us for our solar efforts.

Beyond recognizing individual achievers or organizations, awards give value to the peer audience, too. Awardee stories of perseverance or courage can be a source of inspiration to those who may be struggling through their own difficult solar times. The awardee examples also give peers motivation to continue their efforts and see that others have had similar or even tougher life challenges.

Of course, awards can also come in the form of monetary prizes and financial bonuses. In solar, these can be given to the sales team, but they can also be given to residential customers in the form of referral fees. Whether given to a sales person or a customer, the monetary award message is still the same: “Thanks for helping us to grow our business! Here’s financial encouragement to keep helping!”

From a marketing point of view, awards can also help create solar brand awareness for the business through any press mentions. In addition, peer awards can reflect the brand’s corporate values and culture, especially if the award is given for a non-sales goal or purpose. That, in turn, may attract better solar employees and retain them.

If given without real merit, awards can also negatively affect a brand or the company morale. Stay away from “vanity awards,” internally or externally. In fact, there are impressive sounding “organizations” that exist only to hand out “awards,” but then ask the recipients to pay hundreds of dollars for a plaque. Though these awards may sound good and look good, that money could be better spent on genuinely recognizing someone in your company or in the community.

And that brings me to the Solar Fred Award. If there’s one (more) thing that Heather's passing has taught me, it’s that we shouldn’t wait to recognize people for their efforts because of lack of time or award money. You just never know when it will be too late to express that appreciation.

And so, if you feel under-appreciated with whatever solar work you’re doing right now, the Solar Fred Award goes to you. As a lifelong solar advocate, I want to tell you that I sincerely appreciate everyone who contributes to getting solar work done.

If you feel plenty appreciated, wonderful. Is there someone you work with in solar, regardless of department, who you’ve been meaning to compliment or encourage? Then please don’t wait for “the right moment” or a “better time.”

Take them out to lunch, a drink, or a donut. Thank them for their service — and tell them why. The more specific you are, the more the person will understand that you mean it. If you’re a manager, thank them publicly, but again, be specific. Likewise, if you’re an employee who appreciates the help of a manager or owner, they’re human too. The key is to be sincere and not saying it to curry favor or for a raise.  

Some award recipients may still be embarrassed, but if you’re genuine, they’ll get that, and your relationship—and perhaps your entire organization—will be stronger for it.

Do you already give awards in your solar organization or have you received one? Share your solar company award experiences in the comments section below. If not…it’s always a good time to start. UnThink Solar.

Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” advises solar companies on marketing, communications, and branding. Contact him through UnThink Solar or follow him on Twitter @SolarFred.

Photo: Flickr-EvelynGiggles

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