An award-winning way for L&D teams to get to know the rest of the organization

the-goblet-of-vision-in-california

“Hey! How’s your day going?”

A co-worker threw that question to me on Friday morning as I was walking to my desk for a few minutes of meeting-free respite.

“Fine,” I replied.

“Just fine?!” she asked.

“Uh. Yeah. Good. No, today is great. I guess. It’s fine. Stop badgering me.”

“We won that award!” she said.

It took a moment for that comment to register. Scanning my memory bank for a few seconds, it all came back to me. At the end of September, we had submitted an application for ATD’s Excellence in Practice award program in the category of Performance Improvement. Apparently ATD felt we had an award-worthy performance improvement initiative.   

First, I have to say that 100% of the credit for winning this award goes to my co-worker, Miranda Greenberg. She did all the hard work in putting together a surprisingly extensive award application. Next, I have to say that 100% of the work that went into planning and executing this award-worthy initiative was done by my organization’s operations staff. It was work that was set in motion before my organization even had a centralized L&D function.

It’s always exciting to be recognized, and I think recognition by ATD for our performance improvement initiative is a big deal. As I reflected on this over the weekend, I found a new appreciation for simply going through the process to apply for the award.

When I originally suggested to Miranda that she work on this application, I wasn’t all that concerned with whether or not we would eventually win. Miranda came from another department internally and I was looking for a way for her to grow more familiar with the various teams across the organization.

Around the same time that Miranda joined the L&D team, I received an email about ATD’s Excellence in Practice Award. As I clicked the link and scanned the various data points needed to apply, I realized that this application provided the perfect structure to get to know a variety of teams within our Operations Department.

In order to gather information and data to complete the application, Miranda was forced to interview a variety of team leads, directors, VPs and even our COO. By the time the application was submitted, she had a much deeper understanding of the history of the organization, particularly a traumatic stretch of operational underpeformance from 2012 that led to many of the practices and cross-functional meetings that exist to this day.

While she’ll still give me the stink-eye for the long hours (and even weekend work) that she had to undertake in order to submit the application by its deadline, the work paid off in her ability to be able to talk with longer-tenured employees using a deep understanding of why they do things in a certain way. It’s this deep understanding that has helped our L&D team to grow into a more trusted partner as we work with our colleagues in the Operations Department to develop new training programs and improve upon existing initiatives.

Plus, in the end, it all resulted in an award!

If you’re looking for some structure in your own efforts to get to know other areas of your organization, I definitely recommend using an award application in order to help guide your deep dive into other parts of the organization.

ATD’s BEST Award application deadline is coming up at the end of March (apply here), and Training Magazine’s Top 125 deadline is a bit further out (September 18, 2017). Good luck!

4 thoughts on “An award-winning way for L&D teams to get to know the rest of the organization

    • Thanks Marian. It was a very nice was to recognize what the staff here are doing… and pretty much all of this particular award was done without any actual L&D intervention… the team came up with this solution all on their own!

  1. Congratulations, Miranda and Brian, and your entire team on the award. Stretch assignments like this can help any employee expand their skills, knowledge, and network — and boost performance. Great job!

    • Thanks Dan! I can say “We didn’t really care if we won an award, it was really about the process…”, but the truth is, it’s much more satisfying to go through the process AND earn the recognition. You’re spot on… stretch assignments are so valuable!

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