By Mike McKie, Founder, Bayleaf Honours
Now, more than ever, we are seeing colleagues in a completely new light. As coronavirus impacted workplaces around the world, all were faced with new ways of working, an increased need for flexibility and innovation and a risk of furlough or, worse, redundancy.
And it’s at times like these that some of our more generous, driven and empathetic colleagues really shine.
We can probably all name one or two people who have amazed us with their support and professionalism during this tricky period. But, with a total of approximately 1,350 honours being awarded twice a year, not every generous colleague will be in line for an OBE.
So how do you know if it’s worth putting that nomination forward?
Well, meeting all your objectives at work isn’t going to cut the mustard. Neither is meeting all your objectives and taking part in the wellbeing team or being chief organiser for the staff social club – as wonderful as all these activities of course are!
In his 2004 Queen’s Honours report, Sir Hayden Phillips, Secretary at the Department for Constitutional Affairs, argued that an honour should not just go with a job well done or because someone has reached a particular level – but because an individual has, in plain terms, ‘gone the extra mile’ in the contribution they have made.
Queen’s Honours are saved for the most outstanding nominees – and their ‘going the extra mile’ contribution must be significant and sustained over a period of time. It’s also worth thinking about whether your colleague takes part in voluntary activities outside of the workplace that will really strengthen your nomination of them.
In a more recent report, covering the period of 2015 – 2019, then Prime Minister Theresa May’s priorities for honours recipients included creating jobs and economic activity, supporting children, young people and social mobility, improving your local community and tackling discrimination.
For example, Jane Reynolds was awarded an MBE in 2019 for her work with North Star Ventures and Tees Valley Business Club. Noting the first of Theresa May’s priorities, we can see that Jane’s work fits squarely in this category as she spent many years securing investment funds to strengthen economic growth in the region. The impact of her work was far reaching because it wasn’t just about her colleagues, but the many businesses and employees her work affected across the region. Additionally, it was over and above as her work with Tees Valley Business Club was delivered in a voluntary capacity as chair.
Carol Bell OBE was also awarded in the 2019 birthday honours for services to the arts. Carol was the Executive Director of the Great Exhibition of the North that took place in 2018 which generated economic impact of £126 million.
But there’s more to this award than the staging of the Exhibition – no matter how high profile that alone wouldn’t be enough. Firstly, Carol played a significant role in actually bidding for the exhibition to come to the North East in the first place. But secondly, with regards her professional role, she had been working in events and festivals for many years, during which she was responsible for over 100 events that engaged hundreds and thousands of people. Her contribution was therefore a sustained contribution. Additionally, Carol volunteered in her personal time for a local community trust, cooking meals for people in need.
So you may have a colleague or manager who you feel deserves an honour but before you start on the paperwork – as there is a lot of writing to do – ask yourself the following questions.
Have they done something that has made an impact beyond the organisation itself? Economic impact is one example of this, but there are others. Perhaps driving innovation that has positively impacted the industry or sector as a whole? Or pushing for a community focused activity that has benefitted many people in the local area?
Then there’s the issue of making a ‘sustained’ contribution. While many honours recipients have made contributions over decades, this doesn’t need to be the case. A one off event or activity won’t make its mark, but developing a programme or innovation that has grown considerably or impacted many over a period of a couple of years or more could really stand out.
Next it’s good to look at the selfless nature of this work. Has your colleague worked outside of his or her remit? Have they worked outside of business hours? Have they taken part in community or voluntary work? Or campaigned or lobbied for something tirelessly that has significantly benefited the sector?
You will also need to back your nomination up with several supporting letters from other individuals who will back your nominee – so think about this upfront as well.
These are all key considerations for whether or not you should make a nomination on behalf of a colleague and what kind of information you need to prepare in advance. Never forget the ‘over and above’ criteria and think about what really makes your colleague stand out. But if you think you’ve got enough to play with go for it. The time and effort you put in to preparing a nomination has the potential to get your colleague a Royal seal of approval. And it’s not too bad for business either!
For more information on how entrepreneurs and business leaders win honours awards click here.