Judging – why do it?

Picture Source: Thank you to Ken Huang for sharing his photo on Unsplash

According to the Cambridge dictionary, to “Judge” is to form, give, or have an opinion, or to decide about something or someone, especially after thinking carefully. I agree with this, as it is technically, what a “judge” must do. Be that for a court of law, at a sporting event, fashion show or for an awards programme as I am. It’s from this perspective that I share my views.

Judging companies, teams, personalities and entries can’t happen without context and deciding why you like something. This for many will sound rather obvious; even so, the fact is there is more to judging than what “meets the eye”. You yourself will feel and experience a gear change.

Taking on this responsibility and giving something back to industry and to the many professionals you meet on your metaphoric road to judging – has been the key driver for me. Therefore, I became a business awards judge.

Metrics are just as important as personal insights & experience and you will have a framework to guide you through this. Each time you take on such a responsibility, you will independently read and securely go through each entry…guaranteed you will learn something new.

If you have a Business-to-Business, Consumer-to-Consumer or a mixture of both – your experience will bring something new to the team. Ready to change gears? – find out how to get involved here.

Being ‘Judgey’ and it’s allowed!

As an entrant in a variety of awards the whole experience felt really daunting. I had this theory that those who judged the awards were somehow a different species to the rest of us humans. That was when I decided to take the leap and apply to be a judge myself and find out the truth. 

I have now been judging for the last few years and this year was lucky enough to be a Head Judge at the UKCXA. (I am not worthy) 

Like my fellow colleagues of The Judge Club this is a fantastic opportunity to network with a wide range of  people all passionate about customer experience who I wouldn’t normally meet in my day to day business life. It is a privilege to see and hear from the finalists and share the excitement and joy of the ceremony and I get to learn about new and innovative thinking.  

It is our collective ambition to dispel the myth about judging and the awards process being elitist and scary. Professional and progressive is the aim and I would urge anyone considering becoming a judge to just do it.  Get involved and find out just how rewarding it really is. As I say in the tile – where else can you be ‘Judgey’ and its allowed.

Making a Difference through Feedback

In 2018, I was invited to judge at the UK Employee Experience Awards (fits my interest & expertise).  As a rookie, I found the process to be rather daunting – I felt a great weight of responsibility to do the right thing by all those involved.

I must say that I didn’t fully appreciate what a logistical challenge it is to put on an annual event.  Whilst Awards International seemed to do it very well overall, I noted some areas for improvement. When I met with Awards International, to discuss my observations & concerns, I got to experience a genuine openness to feedback & a commitment to improving the quality of the awards process.  I am currently judging in my third awards & have already noticed some process refinements. 

Awards International is about to launch The Judge Club which enables their judges to further improve their quality of judging, support their development, grow their networks & experience innovation & best practice in winning organisations.

When I was invited to join the Judge Club Advisory Board, I didn’t hesitate. It is a great privilege to be part of a team of professionals committed to continuous improvement.  I would recommend anyone to join The Judge Club if you get the opportunity.

First Time Judge, Hints & Tips

Judging for the first time is daunting, here are my hints and tips based on my personal experience. I hope they help…

1. Give yourself plenty of time

Give yourself time to read through the information provided by Awards International before you start reading through the entries [each entry will take about 45 mins to score]. The instructions, the scoring guidelines & the great examples provided will give you everything you need to set you up for success & will save you time in the long run.

2. Don’t doubt yourself

If you find yourself reading & rereading a section, it generally isn’t because of your lack of knowledge/experience. If the entry doesn’t quite make sense, lacks detail/evidence or seems a little too good to be true, trust your judgement & score them in line with the marking scale. Jot down your queries so that you can pose those questions to the finalists in their presentation.

3. Prepare some questions

Prepare about 2-3 questions for each finalist after you have read their entry. The head judge will probably ask each of the Judges (normally 3 to 5) in turn to pose a question after each presentation has ended. You may find that another judge has asked your question or that the finalist has answered your question during their presentation. Having some prepared questions helps to take a little bit of pressure off you.

4. High marks or low marks?

When scoring the entries online be prepared for it to be an iterative process. The first entry you pick up & score may sound great, but then the next maybe even better. My advice is not to give the first entry high scores, as it is difficult to give an even better entry a higher score. Once you have scored all the entries, you may want to go back & rescore to make sure you have given everyone the right scores. If all the entries are excellent, don’t be worried about scoring everyone high.

When scoring during the presentation, please do not worry about whether you (or your fellow judges) are a high or low marker – the scoring will equal itself out if you are fair & consistent. Just rate the entry based on your knowledge & your experience.

5. On the presentation day, just be yourself

Giving a presentation is never easy. As judges, we don’t need to sit there being stoic, just be real & authentic & help put the finalists at ease so they can perform at their best. During the presentation some finalists bring in their entire team, music & film & some just bring themselves and their passion. Just be yourself & enjoy the experience!

Why become an Awards Judge?

So, what keeps me so enthusiastic and committed to judging – Is it the opportunity to network, identify prospective clients and contacts? No not really – we all know the facts & figures about referral. Is it the opportunity to catch up with like-minded friends & colleagues & meet new people? There are lots of other ways to do this. Is it “wanting to give something back”? (good old Maslow & his hierarchy of needs!) Lots of other ways to do this too!

While these are all real & tangible benefits to becoming a judge, my reasons are mostly emotional – just as well when we consider that 84% of buying decisions are emotionally based.

I feel proud to be part of an elite – but not elitist. A group of people who are supporting individuals & Companies, who are making an investment in their customers & employees experience. I feel challenged to keep up with innovations, trends & challenges that affect our businesses, so that I can continue to be an effective judge. I feel valued by Awards International & my fellow judges through initiatives such as The Judge Club Advisory Board, both central & local networking events, webinars & more! I feel proud to help & support current & potential future finalists with supportive feedback & insights into “what makes a winning entry”.
And … it’s fun!

Why become an Awards Judge?

As a keen networker I knew I could utilise my contacts, but that this would be time consuming & in fairness my day job kept me busy.
Having attended several awards events during my career & won a few of them, I often found myself chasing award winners down to better understand what made them a winner. Call it a ‘eureka’ moment but it suddenly hit me – If I was to become a judge it would give me exposure to some of the best practices out there & help me further build out my network!

That was nine years ago & I’ve not looked back. I’ve just signed up to judge at the Customer Experience Awards 2019 (my favourite) & can’t wait to see some of my fellow judges, many of which I now call friends.

So, does judging give me what I was looking for? Quite simply ‘yes’, being a judge gives me exposure, fresh ideas & networking opportunities that aren’t available every day. My organisation also benefits – they get a manager back more motivated, with new ideas, an enhanced network & quite simply a spring in his step.

If you’re reading this blog, then I’ll assume you are considering becoming a judge. My advice is don’t ‘consider’ it, just ‘do it’ – you won’t regret it & neither will the corporate you work for.

Benefits of Awards & Judging them

Over the years, I’ve learnt so much from being involved in entering awards, winning awards & more recently being a ‘Head Judge’ at Awards events, that I wanted to share my experiences & try to motivate more of you to have a go.

So, why enter an award – for me it is great validation & recognition that your business is doing the right things. I’ve seen first-hand how it boosts staff morale, improves motivation & acknowledges contribution, especially when you are a Finalist or even WIN. It improves perception & reputation, which can only be good for business!

So, why judge at an awards event – by sharing my knowledge I get a chance to inspire other finalists & to offer guidance on how they can improve. I have a chance to discover the latest innovations & stay up to date in an ever-changing business landscape.

One of the new benefits to Judging, with Awards International, is the chance to utilise The Judge Club, an exclusive space for current Judges to network, learn and share best practice. I’m lucky enough to sit on the Advisory Board, so can recommend you take advantage.

It’s true what they say – “you only get out what you put in” – so come on sign up as a Judge, enter an award & see the positive difference it can make to you, your colleagues & your business.