Top 10 Tips for completing award applications

Here are our ten top tips:

1. Don’t Leave it until the last minute!

Do it at least 2 weeks in advance and allocate enough time to do it thoroughly, it can take a substantial amount of time and effort and this cannot be underestimated!
Minimum 2-3 full days to get application finalised. Try and make it creative by using imagery, video snaps, quotes etc.
Speak to others who were shortlisted or judges as they will give you a good steer and share it with others once it is finalised, to get their views and constructive feedback.
If you are shortlisted and have to present to the HPMA Judging Panel in London, this will also take another approximately 2 days to prepare presentation and try and do mock runs with someone who knows nothing about your presentation. You only get 15 mins to present which is strictly marked in terms of time, and then there is a further 15 mins of questions from the panel so focus on both the preparation of the presentation but think about potential questions you could get asked by the judging panel.

2. Tell a story

The judges want to be gripped by what you do and how you achieved it and let your passion shine through! Make sure to focus on the questions and that your responses answer the questions asked. E.g. if you are asked to evaluate performance, focus on qualitative and quantitative data e.g. numbers and stories/quotes from people are very powerful.

3. Select the category with care

Think carefully about which category to enter and make sure your submission meets all the criteria in the category.

4. Sell what you do!

Having been to a few HPMA & CIPD award nights and hearing the other submissions from other HSC organisations, we don’t sell what we do in Northern Ireland enough, so even if you think your project is small or not worthy, it might well be something that other organisations haven’t thought about and would learn from, so be confident and submit it! Make sure you have strong evaluation results and share this and explain simply what the issue was and how you solved it etc.

5. Follow the rules & Word Count

The entry form sets out the questions you must answer and the word limits for each section. You should be explicit in answering the questions and not assume that the judges will spot an implicit point.
Word count is very challenging and please do not exceed the word limits as you may be excluded! It can take a lot of time and rejigging to shed ‘excess’ words.
There is a definite skill in being able to say what you want simply without using superfluous language and this is why it is good to share it with someone who is skilled at ‘carving’ the information and ensuring only what you want to come across is left.
Don’t share it with too many people as you may not have the time for lots of feedback and to make lots of corrections.

6. Evidence and Shared Learning

Judges like evidence – research findings, data and anecdotal evidence. The trick is not to overwhelm your narrative with figures and references. Make sure the outcomes are accurately reflected so be very clear on what your objectives were at the start and what you achieved and lessons learnt for sharing in the future.

7. Impact on patient & client care

That’s what it is all about so be explicit about how your innovations in HR impacts on patient and client care. You may think it’s obvious but the judge may needs to tick a box to award you the point, so spell it out. If you can include patient/client/manager feedback, so much the better and show the clear link between HR and the service and the value you brought.

8. Team effort

One of the common factors running through all winning projects is clear evidence of teamwork and leadership. Describe who is in the team and what they contributed to the project. Don’t undervalue leadership – articulate your vision, how you overcame obstacles, surmounted barriers and learnt from the experience.
If applying for the HPMA HR Team of the Year category, try and show how it was a full team effort and the parts various people played.

9. Clear language

Remember the rules of good writing – short words, short sentences, accurate spelling, active verbs.
Use strong superlatives e.g. outstanding, innovative, passionate, momentous etc. the stronger the adjectives, the greater the impact it can make. Avoid using negative words and try to put a positive slant on issues, even when there was learning, identifiable issues etc.
Ask someone in the team who is ‘good at English’ to see if they can modify words to get the greater sense of meaning across.
Make your language clear and vivid, avoiding acronyms and local references that others won’t understand. Invite at least two people to read it through to ensure it makes sense and has no ambiguities. Check it carefully before you press the submit button and make sure there are no grammatical errors.
The CIPD website and People Management magazine is a good place to gather ‘buzz words’ commonly being used in HR.

10. Business need

Your vision needs to coincide with the Trust’s vision, values and themes and link clearly to the business/service need. Your entry needs to be in context; you need to show how what you have done has contributed to our organisation’s goals and objectives and how this is measured.

Some information adopted from HPMA Awards Top 10 Tips and also from personal feedback from those in HPMA NI shortlisted in 2016.