Last month I worked with Sarah Hall (@hallmeister) on the initial round of judging for a category in the CIPR’s Excellence Awards. As ever, the standard of entry was pretty high across the board.
Sarah and I both considered all 20 or so online entries and marked them independently against the category criteria using the scale the CIPR provided. Although our marks differed slightly, we were able to reach a consensus quite quickly. Despite the closeness of the scoring, we were agreed on six outstanding entries to shortlist.
Next up, later this month, are the face to face panel sessions which form a crucial part of the judging process. Whenever I have been a judge in the Excellence Awards, this part of the process has always thrown up surprises.
Sometimes, beautifully crafted online entries, the leading scorers from the written stage, have simply not shone so brightly in the panel – and it is often hard to know why. Maybe the enthusiasts who worked on the entry were not the team meeting the panel; maybe the team was distracted by a big new business pitch and didn’t put the preparation into the panel session it deserved. Maybe the panel’s questions drew out some weaknesses in the strategy or measurement.
Whatever the reason, I can’t emphasise this point enough. If you are shortlisted for an Excellence Award then congratulations – you have overcome a significant and challenging hurdle and managed to stand out in a crowded field of strong entries; but your work is only half completed. If you want to win, then polish up the presentation, rehearse your answers to the likely questions, and practice, practice, practice.
Excellence deserves reward, but it takes effort as well.