What’s in an award? Recognising more than the tip of the iceberg

The first few months of every year we’re bombarded with awards for this and awards for that. Some lucky people even get to put on their best evening wear and attend fancy gala evening dinners.  The glitz and the glamour that surrounds the ceremony itself and, of course, the fanfare associated with winning.  But to be honest - be it the Oscars or the Learning Technology Awards - it’s only that bit that most of us see. Me included. 

Last week, however, I was invited to be Kineo’s ambassador for the City & Guilds Group’s Princess Royal Training Awards. (If you don’t know what they are - and based on my opening statement why would you? - have a read of this post about the awards from last year). Which made me take a moment to reflect on the whole award concept and ask myself the question - why do we put so much store in them? 

To gain an award – whether it’s a medal, certificate, standard or another kind of recognition - takes achievement, usually for something that’s quite outstanding; and outstanding achievement doesn’t come easily. To win a gold medal at the Olympics (which is in itself an award) requires years of hard work, dedication, skill, knowledge, practice and expertise. Gaining a vocational or specialism-based award is no different.  

It seems a shame, therefore, that it is the prize we celebrate and not the effort that went into winning it in the first place.  

So when I accepted to work with the PRTA team I decided to have a bit of dig into the stories that lay behind the awards. Last year the PRTA bestowed 34 awards on a broad range of organisations, large and small from all sectors.  Reading about their work made me truly appreciate how much an award is really like an iceberg - what the world sees is a tiny proportion of what goes on beneath the water to achieve the standards and get the recognition.  

The Princess Royal Training Awards

The PRTAs are a standard rather than a gold, silver or bronze kind of award. Rather than competing against a field of entrants, organisations are asked to demonstrate that they’ve achieved a standard of excellence when it comes to training and development. Plenty of thought and evidence, therefore, must go into the submission process alone. On its own that’s already a good process of reflection and internal recognition. 

There’s lots of reasons why organisations sign up. Whatever the reason it seems to me that awards - like the Princess Royal Training Awards - recognise, validate and reward excellence.  Not just through the glitz and glamour of the awards ceremony, but by recognising and valuing the hard work, dedication, skill and experience that their staff put in to achieving those standards of excellence. And by encouraging organisations to examine, document and celebrate that hard work themselves. 

You may be reading this blog and be left with a bit of so what … well that’s okay.  However, what I would encourage you to do is to think about your organisation or those you work with and explore how a PRTA may at one level validate the good work they’re doing, but at another level purely celebrate the skill, knowledge and expertise of their people. 

Award applications can be made until 31 March 2017.    

 
 
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