Protons at Atomic: One Way We Recognize Our Colleagues

Here at Atomic, we value feedback. It isn’t a one-way critical street, though. Part of feedback at Atomic is acknowledging our colleagues when they’ve gone above and beyond — for fellow Atoms, our clients, and our community. We have many ways of sharing positive feedback with each other. One of the more formal ways we do it is through a recognition program with awards we call protons.

Protons acknowledge Atoms that exemplify Atomic’s values. Atoms receiving a proton are acknowledged at standup and receive a custom-designed challenge coin imprinted with the value they’re being recognized for.

Protons express appreciation for our colleagues, keep our values top-of-mind, and encourage folks to be aware of the awesome work their coworkers are doing. They acknowledge everything from going above and beyond to create value (or avoid pain) for a client to being an ambassador in the community.

Protons at Atomic

The Process

Here are the steps an Atom takes when they observe something proton-worthy:

  • They fill out a simple, internal, online form with who they’d like to recognize and a description of what they’d like to acknowledge.
  • A representative from that office reviews the proton.
  • The nominating Atom presents the proton to the recipient at standup.

The 6 Protons

Any Atom can nominate or receive a proton. Here are some actual protons that have been awarded for each of our six values.

Own It

“Atomic rolled out an enhanced PTO benefit for 2022. We have various internal tooling that helps Atoms track their time off, utilization, and hours. Working against a real end-of-the-year deadline, Patrick made modifications to that tooling. He did this work independently and identified additional tooling to update along the way. His efforts and company communication helped facilitate a smooth and painless benefit transition.”

Give a Shit

“Elaine has recently given talks and run a series of workshops with various Atoms on Job Crafting, a career planning model that helps participants find ways to leverage their unique skills and interests at work. When I shared some of my personal career uncertainty with her, Elaine generously offered to meet up on short notice and dig into these challenges together via a job crafting session. When I arrived, Elaine had thoughtfully prepared our workspace and blocked out the afternoon to offer her full attention. She listened carefully while I talked over complex challenges, and offered reflection, clarity, and her own insight. It’s a rare gift to receive someone’s full focus to this extent, and I’d like to thank Elaine for her willingness to Give A Shit about a colleague and dive deeply into a tough problem space together.”

Share the Pain

“I’m working on a project for the marketing team that involves quite a bit of design work. I know enough to get around but recently found myself in a real bind where I couldn’t move to the next phase because the design just didn’t feel “right.” I reached out to Taylor to sync up for some design help, and she jumped in without question. She was so flexible to meet with me and talked through my problem in a way that helped me get through the bind and actually learn more about our Atomic brand. She got creative, taught me how to make the necessary changes, and celebrated the small win of a beautiful email template with me. Thanks for being such a helpful colleague, Taylor!”

Teach and Learn

“Brittany recently designed and led a course for our Accelerator cohorts on how Atomic handles the sales process and project estimation. These are critical parts of the business that aren’t particularly visible from a seat on a project team. We really appreciate her work to share information about these processes and help our new Accelerator Atoms gain a deeper understanding of how the company does business.”

Act Transparently

“This past fall we asked Grand Rapids makers to share feedback on their experience with the Career Development Program. Sarah gave very specific, direct, and actionable feedback. We really appreciate her speaking clearly to what was working for her and what wasn’t. This sort of candid information is invaluable to moving initiatives forward, and it’s not always easy to share.”

Think Long Term

“A client was looking to create a version of their mobile application on a wearable device. The project had a tight deadline and required rewriting the application architecture in a new tech stack while navigating complex Bluetooth pairing logic. To ensure long-term project success, Nick took the time (but not too much time!) to onboard to the new tech stack and create a solid architecture. He also took initiative, bringing in other developers when they hit blockers or needed a review. Due to his solid architecture, feature development was completed within the tight timeframe. In addition, his knowledge of the tech stack and empathetic design thinking informed the creation of new features that significantly improved the end-user experience.”

Benefits of a Workplace Recognition Program

Showing appreciation for our colleagues not only lifts them up, but creates a warmer, happier workplace. Practicing gratitude is contagious, and it feels great to be acknowledged. I hope you’ll be inspired to recognize your colleagues’ contributions—or maybe start a recognition program at your workplace!


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