Guest Blog by Kip Heath: Awards: Why nominate others?

Girlymicro is away with a family emergency and has asked me to come and talk to you about one of my more eclectic work skills:

I am very good at award nominations.

In fact, despite spending 99% of my life feeling utterly unqualified – I would even say that I am the most successful nominator that I know.

That’s a bold statement, so come on – prove it.

Since January 2020 my nominations have successfully led to the following:

Most recently I went on a nominating spree for the 2021 Pathology Power List and ended up with half my work team featuring on the final list of 75 inspirational pathologists globally. I might be biased, but I know that I have an incredible work team and I am thrilled to see them recognised.

I find it more than a little entertaining that the only award I wasn’t able to nominate a winner for in 2020 was the award that required you to self-nominate. It seems I am much better at supporting others than I am at supporting myself.

So why do you do this?

As trite and cliché as it might be, I do believe that you should be the change you want to see in the world. Once, not long after I’d started a new job I was sitting in my manager’s office and they asked how things were going. It wasn’t a bad job but I had felt that people were very quick to tell you what you were doing wrong but no-one was ever positive when something went right.

This feedback didn’t go down particularly well and I was told I couldn’t expect a pat on the back just for doing my job. I decided then and there that this wasn’t the type of work culture that I was prepared to work in.

I looked around for ways I could make staff feel appreciated and ended up nominating someone in the department for the Trust staff appreciation awards every month. Not long after I left I heard that someone had continued nominating staff in the department. I can’t change the world but maybe I can adjust the culture of one department.

That’s very sweet, but why is it worth finding time to do this?

This won’t necessarily apply to all fields but for professions in the NHS awards can be incredibly useful. Awards can be used to improve CVs and give staff a greater chance of career progression, they raise the profile of both the individual and the profession, they can help support grant applications as they demonstrate a track record of success. Some awards even come with a cash prize and the advantages of that seem fairly self-explanatory.

Of course, none of this explains why I choose to nominate others as it isn’t me winning the awards. (Although Girlymicro nominated me for the Trust Education Award in 2020 which I am smug to report is sitting on a shelf in my office).

My awards shelf. (I’m a Scientist is an event you win by engaging with students so they vote for you. In my case by talking about football.)

I have found that nominating others has given me a number of benefits.

  • There’s the warm fuzzy feeling when someone you respect succeeds.
  • It helps you develop your own communication skills which is helpful for your CV and interview techniques.
  • It teaches you to complete applications and matching criteria (also known as: learning to read the question)
  • Award ceremonies are incredibly helpful for networking. This is a highly underrated skill in my profession, I’ve watched lots of people disregard or miss the point of it. Turning up to an event as the person who has put the winner on stage is a very good conversation point!
  • In the days before COVID-19 award ceremonies often took place in a nice hotel with a free meal and alcohol for those that drink. I’m the daughter of an accountant and Yorkshireman and so am not physically capable of turning down a free meal.

So I would encourage you to go out and start nominating! Support others in your field and help create a more positive work atmosphere in what has been a very stressful year for most of us.

So how do you write award winning nominations?

My top tips for nominating may be completely at odds to others, but these are things that have worked for me.

  • Find the right award to apply for. You can write the best nomination they’ve ever read but it won’t work if the person/work/project is ineligible.
  • In scientific awards numbers are good. If you have a project that has evidence of success this is really helpful. For patient and public involvement / engagement work – this is another reason to make sure you build in evaluations.
  • If there are criteria published, make sure you follow them! Seems simple, but I refer you to the ‘read the question’ point I made earlier.
  • You’re not going to win everything so consider whether you’d prefer to target your awards or flood the nominations. (At our last Trust staff awards I singlehandedly wrote 2.5% of the nominations. Which helped me produce three finalists and one winner).
  • Are you the right person to nominate? When I submitted the nomination for Girlymicro’s BEM I was aware that the UK Government isn’t really interested in me. They want to see organisational support. So my nomination form was signed by our Trust Chief Executive, Medical Director, the Association of Clinical Biochemists and the Chief Scientific Officer’s team. This sounds like a big ask, but Girlymicro’s BEM raised the profile of all of these organisations and so they were happy to support.
  • SAVE YOUR FORMS. A number of awards require you to fill out an online form and you will never see the nomination again. This is incredibly frustrating when you want to nominate the same person / work in multiple areas.

This sounds simple enough, where do I go from here?

Honestly, if I can do this then anyone can. And there are several awards currently open to have a go at.

And that’s everything from me. If you enjoyed my ramblings then feel free to check me out on Twitter (@miceheath) Hopefully you will be back to your regularly scheduled Girlymicro posts soon!

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