Going Above and Beyond: TUSDM Team Excellence Awards

Turning a new idea into an organizational tradition is a difficult thing. For the Selection Committee of the Team Excellence Award, doing so is the perfect example of what a team can accomplish when they go above and beyond for their organization.

The TUSDM Code Team – 2012 Team Excellence Award Winners

The Team Excellence Award is well on its way to becoming a TUSDM tradition, with the opening of its third annual nomination season for special recognition to staff members who work as part of a team or workgroup. Nominations for 2013 opened on September 4.

“The primary goal is to make it a fun and special opportunity to really acknowledge everyone’s accomplishments,” said Quigley Raleigh, a Program Manager and Co-chair of the Team Excellence Awards Selection Committee.

A nominated “team” must be comprised of permanent employees, and can include an entire department, sub-group, or inter-departmental subgroup or committee that works on a shared project or goal. Team members can nominate themselves or their direct employees, but need a letter of support from another party. Nomination forms are available on the TUSDM website here. Award winners are invited to lunch with Dean Huw Thomas and Executive Associate Dean Mark Gonthier, are honored in a team photo and receive a cash prize.

Raleigh and committee co-chair Matt Johnston, an Application Support Specialist, said that they are primarily looking for thoughtful, impactful stories about the nominated teams, displaying significant and noteworthy accomplishments. There are about 20 teams nominated each year, and the co-chairs said that nominators can look to the past winners, the Oral Medicine Team in 2011 and the Tufts Emergency Code Team in 2012, to see what attributes the committee is looking for.

“The environment here at Tufts Dental is extremely dynamic,” Raleigh said. “Certain teams will come to the fore in a given year based on what’s going on at the school. We want to honor those special projects and team efforts that sometimes wouldn’t otherwise get recognized.”

Selection Committee members are purposefully chosen from diverse backgrounds in order to build a sense of overall community and make sure every aspect of TUSDM is represented. The committee even includes past winners of the award; Paula O’Brien, who is part of the Code Team, and Elizabeth Tzavaras, who is a member of the Oral Medicine Team.

“We said we wanted to build past winners into the decision process when we first started,” said Raleigh. “We have a great cross-section of people that really channels the essence of our community.”

The Team Excellence Award was developed in 2011 by the TUSDM Action Planning Committee (APC), as an outcome of the Excellence at Work survey. The committee identified a theme of the survey indicating that dental school staff felt there was not enough recognition given for distinction at work. The APC assessed other rewards programs across the university and decided a team award best matched the needs at TUSDM.

“These are really festive occasions,” said Johnston. “Teams get recognition for the work they’ve done. And often other members of the school wouldn’t otherwise know about the great things these teams are doing.”

The Selection Committee looks forward to receiving this year’s nominations, and is thrilled for the opportunity to honor another exceptional TUSDM team. Nominations close October 4.