An awards program has many positive benefits for entrants. Of course, it provides public recognition and possible advancement opportunities for the winners. But, it can also offer a system of evaluation for all entrants to measure their success against others in their industry and provide an opportunity for personal and professional growth through constructive feedback from your awards program judges.
Feedback is an important tool for any performance evaluation – and awards programs are no different.
But how you offer it, the language you use and the method used to present it is important. Why? Because it can either inspire your entrants toward improvement and success or, conversely, de-motivate them from entering your program again in the future.
Here are a few key points to consider when providing feedback to entrants who have taken the time to engage with your awards program.
The language of feedback
The language your judges use in providing feedback is important because it directly influences the value of the feedback and whether your entrants can benefit from it.
If the language is too vague or summary, it will provide no value for the entrant. If the feedback only highlights problems or errors, it can demotivate the entrant in the future. And if the language is too complimentary, it can also remove the value proffered.
Feedback should be constructive and specific, highlighting both strengths and weaknesses of the entry, and possible areas of improvement. And it should be meaningful – can the entrant take the feedback and effectively improve in some area?
When it comes to language, make sure your judges avoid overly critical words and phrases like:
- No offence
- If I were you
- You should
It’s typical for feedback in an awards program to be in written form. But, you could also consider offering verbal feedback – a great way to capture your judges’ immediate reactions to an entry through an audio or video recording. This would be a fantastic added value for your entrants. Granted, this can be time-intensive, so consider this for feedback aimed at smaller groups of entrants such as those with shortlisted entries.
How to instruct your judges on giving feedback
Before your judges begin any scoring or assessment, provide a framework for their feedback. Ensure the judging criteria is clear so your judges understand the feedback requested. In your judging instructions, stress the importance of providing comprehensive qualitative feedback to the entrants.
Consider providing your judges with the following tips:
- Provide both areas of strength and areas for improvement.
- Be critical, but constructive. The most effective feedback raises questions and considerations without demoralising the entrant.
- Provide high-quality feedback that challenges them to improve.
- Be specific so the entrants know exactly where or what to improve next time.
- Provide the feedback for an entry in a reasonable time. Immediately after scoring works best since the entry is fresh in the mind of your judges.
Feedback – good for entrants, good for your program
Feedback isn’t only helpful for your entrants, it’s also a tool to drive your program’s growth and reputation. The feedback your judges provide could be the best opportunity for summative assessment your entrants receive in a given year.
And this value can be a huge driving factor for program entry. Providing written feedback on all entries will ensure that each program entrant will receive a key takeaway.