Bankim Chandra is Director & CEO of Dotsquares. Always committed to innovative solutions and mentoring the next generation in the industry. These can be from the more recognized to the downright obscure. Most of us can recognize that the more established and known ones will bring tangible benefits, but can these more unrecognizable ones be of any use to an organization? What use can be made of them, and how can they bring about any meaningful changes to an organization? Business awards in general are now ubiquitous. It seems that every publication, community group, networking meeting and industry body (however tenuous) now has an award ready to share. But are these all as they seem? Are all these bona fide awards or simply a marketing ploy to either get seats booked for an awards night or to drive their own agenda? There are, of course, the most recognized awards such as the Queen's Awards for Enterprise and the Institute of Directors: Director of the Year in the U.K. And internationally, the International Business Awards (a.k.a. "the Stevies"), the European Business Awards and the Deming Prize are some of the most well-renowned awards.
Awards can boost organizational reputation and set you apart from the crowd, as well as provide a timely boost for your staff through highlighting their collective achievements. For those organizations in the startup phase of their growth, these can signal to the outside world that you have arrived, while for those more mature organizations, awards not only prove your heritage but also show your organization is still dynamic and innovative. To take this to its natural conclusion, in some instances there can be a marked difference in the bottom line for award winners. According to the British Quality Foundation, "Smaller award-winning companies... have experienced a 63% increase in operating income, and a 39% growth in sales when compared to non-winners." So it would appear that some awards are more palatable than others, giving a serious amount of weight in conversations with clients and potential clients alike, while others are treated with not much more than a cursory glance. So for those that are recognized and valued, let's look at the potential benefits and possible pitfalls that a win and even a submission can enjoy: Even a nomination can give lasting benefits such as the inclusion of the award logo on your company website and other material. * Analysis: An award can give you a way of assessing or benchmarking yourself against your competition. By using this as a differentiator, you can add to how you stand out in the marketplace, be that through a skill such as innovation or how the business is run by prioritizing diversity. So include everyone in the achievement and ensure the effect is maximized through increased motivation. Everyone needs to feel that they are getting the recognition they deserve, so why not couple this with an awards evening and invite staff and clients alike for a networking opportunity? Choosing an award to enter rather than having one bestowed upon you as part of a wider program is obviously going to generate more traction. Those awards with the gravitas and weight of history behind them will obviously be the optimum choices and can be aggressively marketed accordingly. The award itself needs to set you apart from the crowd, provide clarity on achievements and present an overriding sense of purpose as to how the award was won. These opportunities need to be considered both internally and externally. The energizing and positive motivational effect this can have on your employees can be dramatic, challenging them to be even better in their daily tasks. Awards for innovating or a particular product or service can obviously translate into quick wins. An award from Microsoft or Salesforce, for example, can be very specialized, but within that niche, it could create a lot of noise. Technology awards are often won or lost on the provision of case studies, outlining achievements with a particular client. A joint press release or post from your company and your client is going to generate interest, albeit mainly in that niche. Highlighting this on your own channels (and if possible, in the press) can only draw prospects in to speak with you. Some awards are better received and acknowledged than others. A lesser-known award might not receive the same accolades and be dismissed more as vanity than accepted as a true achievement, so be careful in your choices and reap the benefits of your winning announcement!