When the mean becomes a goal, we lose the goal and we only focus on the mean.
Global, regional, national and internal excellence programs around the world aim to achieve one goal: To raise the effectiveness and efficiency of organizations, departments and individuals while encouraging them to move forward in the journey towards excellence. This goal must be clear and shared with all stakeholders, it must also be promoted at all occasions and throughout all stages of the Award starting from its announcement and until the Announcement of results and distribution of awards.
Excellence Programs strive to embrace concepts and culture of excellence and take them into account at all stages, these programs also take into account the RADAR logic and focus on developing clear objectives for each phase through clear and measurable indicators in order to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of the approaches used and how to apply them in achieving the desired goals. Outcomes enable participants to learn from their experience, set improvement goals, and develop the approaches used.
In order for Excellence Programs to achieve the desired results, they must have clear reasons and objectives to drive the development of strong programs that will enable organizations to empower the stakeholders in driving change. They must also adopt a clearly defined vision that is shared and embraced by all employees, a vision that is able to meet the expectations of all stakeholders.
Excellence Programs identify all the relevant stakeholder groups and segment them accurately to get to know their expectations and needs, as they are always seeking to meet or exceed the expectations of all stakeholders which is accomplished by measuring the perceptions of stakeholders, holding stakeholder meetings and conducting interviews and focus groups. The process of stakeholder management has long been considered one of the most important success factors of any excellence program and should be a priority for any organization that wishes to excel.
When it comes to assessments, Excellence Programs must set a transparent selection criteria for the assessors, team leaders and jury members and select the most appropriate candidates through personal interviews. Assessors must then be provided with adequate training and ample opportunities to meet and get well acquainted with the teams they will be working with before the site visits in order to achieve full understanding and homogeneity. This way, assessments are more likely to be smooth, transparent, and participative. Before starting the assessment, it is important to engage the award participants through orientation and awareness sessions to ensure that the assessment goals and the assessment process are clear from the first day. This is an integral step to kick start any assessment project.
Select, Train, Assess, Trust, Empower, and Delegate.
Excellence Programs create a motivating work environment for the assessment teams, technical and administrative committees, away from all pressure. Efficiency is key to the success of any assessment mission. Therefore, it is important to ensure that 80% of the Assessors team’s energy is focused on preparing for the site visit, executing the site visit and the final feedback report and only 20% is spent on submission assessment. This will result in an effective site visit and a high-level final feedback report that will add value to the organization and enable it to achieve a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness which is, essentially, the main objective of the awards process. An effective Assessment process will also add value in the form of a learning and development experience for the assessment teams, technical committees and for the award team.
Always remember that unsatisfied teams or teams working under extreme pressure will only be able to deliver meager results.
Moreover, it is imperative to have a competent technical and management structure in place, one that is able to develop a seamless action plan for the assessment process, the ability to assign roles and delegate authority to concerned persons. The management structure must also be able to respond quickly to variables as well as stakeholder expectations in addition to being prepared for timely interventions to resolve any issues that may arise during the assessment process to ensure that the final results are not affected.
The Ten Commandments for the Assessor:
- Start with the end in mind
An assessor should focus on the main goal and the final product at all times, which is a final report that adds value to the organization and encourages the continuation of its journey towards excellence.
- Understanding the organization
During the pre-site visit stage, the assessor focuses on analyzing the organization and understanding how it functions to achieve its goals. This is the most important element in the assessment of any organization and is linked to all the assessment criteria, making this a key input to consider during the site visit and throughout the Assessment process.
- Planning and Preparation
Good preparation for site visits, which includes proper planning, resource allocation, and prioritizing assessment questions that address information in the submission that may seem unclear. Throughout this process, assessors must ensure to incorporate the RADAR elements. After all, how an assessor write a report or score without identifying achievement level of the RADAR elements?
During site visits, the assessor must maintain the utmost level of professionalism and objectivity while avoiding asking questions for curiosity’s sake. All questions should be easy, clear and focused to produce answers that are relevant to the scoring methodology. The assessment team must adhere to their agreed roles; they should not interrupt others, respect their opinion and clarify the questions in more than one way to ensure they get the needed information.
Moreover, assessors must respect planned and scheduled times for site visits and respect others’ time, as failure to do so will leave a negative perception of the assessor and the award itself. Assessors should not leave the organization without the completion of all questions, inquiries in addition to verifying facts and recording them.
Assessors should not give any impressions or provide opinions, whether positive or negative, during interviews or during the opening or closing meetings. However, assessors must make sure to thank the organization, from leaders to front-line employees, for their cooperation and warm reception during the visit.
- Team Consensus
Immediately following the site visits, the assessors need to hold a meeting to have final consensus on all points, draft a professional report that focuses on value-added comments that are both useful and easy for the organization to understand and implement.
Assessors must take great precautions to avoid being influenced by any previous impressions or preliminary assessment results, if applicable. It must always be remembered that the primary role of the assessor is to assess the organization not the submission.
- Clear and Concise Feedback
Assessors must pay great attention while drafting their comments as these become the final product of the assessment. If an assessor’s comments are formulated in a clear and concise manner, the scores provided should be more easily accepted. However, if comments are unclear and scattered, chances are that the scores provided will be a source of conflict between the assessors, the team leader, the judges, and the organization. A key principle of the final report is that the scores received should reflect the comments provided.
- Concentrate on the Facts
Assessors should never make the mistake of being influenced by initial impressions and/or perceptions of the organization. Assessors should maintain their objectivity by assessing the organization using proven concepts, criteria and RADAR logic in the context of the organization key information. If the assessor fails to understand the organization, the assessment loses its credibility, resulting in a generic report that could be applied to any organization.
- Leadership message
On the onset of any assessment, assessors should provide a message to senior leadership outlining the eight concepts of excellence, and emphasizing that all concepts are linked to the model criteria. Leaders must also clearly understand that there is no contradiction between any of the concepts and criteria while having a good understanding of the process.
- Team Work
Team preparation and cohesiveness are essential for a successful assessment team. Members of the assessment team must be able to clearly demonstrate their understanding of the organization and be able to illustrate the organization’s key strengths and areas for improvement. They must be ready to answer the questions and inquires of the jury team and must be on the same track as their team members during the presentation, bearing in mind that the main role of the jury is to ensure that all organizations are scored fairly and objectively.