Entering Awards in the COVID-19 Era
For many, our current focus is making it through the short to medium term. The emphasis is on keeping our jobs, ensuring that the business will survive and adapting to the various challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown our way. It is not surprising that entering awards may not even be on the radar. In people’s minds entering awards may appear as a luxury of time and energy that is currently a rare commodity.
Having spent time on both sides of the awards process, I thought it would be useful to take a moment to explore the potential benefits of entering an award during this time.
The most common objection that seems to be raised is “What’s the point? We might not even be here if we win!” That is quite possible, yet maybe that is the very reason it should be considered. The kudos from an award may be exactly what is required to keep the business alive. More importantly the process of putting together an awards submission may just be the thing to revitalise the business and give staff a new perspective. It may even be an opportunity to engage stakeholders and clients.
There are a number of important elements in preparing an awards submission that are useful to focus on during this phase.
The project or initiative was not done in isolation nor should the submission. Various members of the team see things from an array of perspectives. During this period, it would be a great exercise to reinforce the value each team member plays. It has never been more important to let people know their skills and experience are important to running the business.
Isolation may have disrupted the team dynamics. Getting the team together to work on an entry submission may re-engage the team, re-ignite team thinking and bring forward new views because of the unusual circumstances that have been experienced.
In the process of explaining to the award judges how exceptional your organisation or team is, the submission process provides valuable positive feedback to the team. A positive and enthusiastic team will create good morale in the workplace which are generally more productive.
It would be safe to presume that many people spend a significant amount of their work time firefighting. Our effort is devoted to trying to solve one issue before the next one raises its head then racing from one Zoom meeting to the next.
Although things may have dramatically changed in our universe, it is not a bad idea to review our efforts and identify what was unique in pre-COVID times. This sort of review may be useful to identify skills and experiences that could be used in the future. It is also a great opportunity to identify and remind ourselves of what it is that we do well.
Each awards program has its own perspective on what is a winning entry.
The questions or issues that they raise can make organisations view their project from a vastly different perspective. In fact, often the analysis required makes the entry team view the initiative in different way. This means that you are no longer looking at your work from your organisational perspective but forced to stand outside taking a fresh look at the various aspects of your work. This is a very gratifying and a productive process resulting in great benefits for future initiatives or projects. It invites different thinking and even problem solving.
We all have our preferred ways of presenting our information. Awards programs force you out of your comfort zone to present your information in a foreign format. Most often the word limitations are a challenge. This is a great opportunity to develop a succinct communication that can relate to a wider audience than simply specialists in the field or people within your organisation.
Clear communication is vital today, especially as there is so much noise distracting us. With succinct clear communication, the material can be used for other documentation such as grant funding, partnership proposals or raising capital.
Contact with many of our suppliers, stakeholders or partners may have dropped off during this period. An award submission provides the perfect opportunity to connect with this group in a positive way. Whether they were directly involved or not their feedback and support may be particularly useful. More importantly, you are demonstrating that you value them and that they are part of your business success. These are important bonds that just may be what will assist the business survive in the longer term.
Sometimes the experiences and learnings during the journey are more valuable than the actual destination itself. Of course, if you become a finalist or win an award, that is the amazing icing on the cake. Most importantly, it is worthwhile taking on the process of an award submission for the variety of benefits it provides along the way.