Do you think your company’s recognition programs could merit winning Recognition Professionals International’s (RPI) Overall Best Practice Award?
I’m going to let you in on a secret of what it takes to win this award.
I have been on the judges’ committee for RPI’s Best Practice Awards for the past 11 years. We’ve seen over 70 organizations submit written nominations to vie for the Overall Best Practice Award. Those companies that submit nominations benefit from receiving the judges’ written feedback on strengths and areas needing improvement, along with quantified scores for each of the standard criteria they’ve been judged on.
Last year I had the opportunity to assist one of our clients, RBC Financial Group, with writing up their nomination form for consideration of the Best Practice Award. I am very pleased to say they actually won the Overall Best Practice Award. Naturally, I had to recuse myself from judging their nomination.
That’s why I know what it takes to be a Best Practice Award winner.
The Adjudication Process
Each judge has a rubric for adjudicating each of the seven best practice standards. These seven best practice standards consist of the following:
- Recognition Strategy
- Management Responsibility
- Recognition Program Measurement
- Communication Plan
- Recognition Training
- Program Events and Celebration
- Program Change and Flexibility
To learn more about RPI’s Best Practice Standards I recommend you visit this link at RPI Best Practice Standards.
Judges review each nomination along with the accompanying support materials to see if the written content complies with each of the standards and provides evidence to substantiate their claim.
Each of the seven standards has from 3 to 5 criteria elements with a descriptive, quantifiable Likert scale measuring stick that each standard can be scored against. Following the submission of scores and written feedback from each individual judge, the committee of judges convenes to aggregate the scores and discuss any variations, consistencies, or concerns.
Following this committee meeting, judges will have agreed upon and submitted their recommendation for the Overall Best Practice Award winner to the RPI board of directors. In addition, judges recommend potential Best in Class winners, where companies that have scored well in individual standards receive awards as well.
These scores, accompanied by the judges written feedback of strengths and potential areas to be improved upon, are often seen as the most valuable outcome of the award nomination process.
A Winning Nomination Combination
So what makes a written nomination a best practice award winner?
First, a winning nomination always has a well-written nomination form that is clear and succinct and covers all the required elements to demonstrate compliance with each of the standards.
One of the problems we’ve repeatedly seen is where submitters of the nomination form are either too brief with their content or they try to bombard us with voluminous details.
Second, the right amount of support materials and any other collateral content sufficient to prove compliance with each standard.
In the beginning days of judging RPI’s Best Practice Awards, I recall receiving binders of content including CDs, DVDs, and printed materials. These days, supportive content is provided digitally. However, there is still a tendency to provide an abundance of content to provide evidence of demonstrating the standard. One or two items to validate each of the points being made within the nomination form are sufficient.
It’s a case of Goldilocks and the three bears scenario where the amount of support materials has to be just right.
Third, give the right amount of metrics and data to show program usage, employee perceptions of programs, ongoing program improvement, and impact or return on investment.
Some organizations have been prone to provide program usage data without showing year-over-year improvement or explanation for why the levels are where they are. Companies that get recognition right have always been focused on showing the impact recognition programs have on their people, as well as on performance and business results.
Fourth, successful Best Practice Award winners always come from organizations with strong leadership who give support and personal commitment for employee recognition.
Best Practice Award winners have executive leadership sponsoring the cause of recognition and they are also exemplary in giving praise and recognition themselves. Management is held accountable for giving recognition in whatever performance management and development methods they have.
Fifth, the most influential factor of being a Best Practice Award winner is a well-written recognition strategy.
Whenever judges see a well-written recognition strategy right from the start it is an indicator of a good winning contender. A recognition strategy identifies the purpose of recognition, the different types of recognition programs in support of recognition practices, and lays out the desired objectives for the company with using recognition. There is usually a detailed plan for effectively implementing and integrating recognition throughout the company. Objectives are established and which you can measure the organization’s progress against.
Hopefully, you can attend the RPI Conference at the end of the month (April 29ththrough to May 1st– click here to register) and find out who this year’s Best Practice Award winner is.
And do what you can to make your company’s employee recognition programs worthy of a future nomination. I am always here to guide you in the right direction.
Reflective Question: What’s the first thing you should do to improve your employee recognition programs so they could merit being a Best Practice Award winner?
Roy is no longer writing new content for this site (he has retired!), but you can subscribe to Engage2Excel’s blog as Engage2Excel will be taking Roy’s place writing about similar topics on employee recognition and retention, leadership and strategy.
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