It’s that time of year again – the awards ceremonies. As a judge in this year’s Personnel Today Awards – ‘HR Impact’ category, of course – the only category that would attract the interest of an evidence-based HR manager – I have had to wait for the final results to be announced on 30th November before writing this piece – not that I am planning to divulge any secrets here; except to say that some HR teams have a funny way of defining ‘impact’. If any entrants for this category want some personal feedback as to why they did not win please feel free to get in touch.
I have always wondered what the point of awards are when organisations enter themselves – presumably they genuinely believe they are doing something pretty special or out of the ordinary – but if the awards are not treated with great respect by the professional community at large then what purpose do they serve?
I got a mention myself in dispatches in Personnel Today’s ‘Top 40 Power Players’ in 2007 (no.30, in case you were wondering) without anyone interviewing me or assessing my work (as far as I am aware) – I didn’t ask to be mentioned – in fact I would have much preferred it if they hadn’t because looking at the other ‘Power Players’ there was no one that I would have held in high esteem – Neil Roden (ex Royal Bank of Scotland) was No. 1. I suppose if helping to get your bank nationalised is a mark of success then he obviously deserved his award. It just shows that these league tables are not great predictors of success.
In fact Roden was No. 2 in HR Magazine’s list for 2008 (yes, that was after we all knew that RBS had crashed!) so perhaps some HR journalists are a bit out of touch with reality? That same year I was also one of the ‘ones to watch’ in their list (at the very tender age of 53 and after a mere 30 years in the business). HR Magazine also had a list of the ‘top HR thinkers’ (sic) which included Dave Ulrich at No.1, whose infamous model has rapidly fallen into disrepute and Will Hutton at No.7, who took the Industrial Society and ‘transformed’ it into the financial disaster and pseudo-research joke that is now the Work Foundation. If I had known I was to be in such sparkling company I would have asked HR Magazine to stop tarnishing whatever reputation I might have earned with its own very low standards.
Of course, the only reason I am mentioning all of this is that the one thing that is usually conspicuous by its absence at awards ceremonies is any real evidence of success. I remember Personnel Today many years ago used to run an annual, recruitment advertising competition but no one bothered to ask whether any vacancies were successfully filled or not – never mind whether the new recruits actually performed.