By Rose O. Sherman, EdD, RN, NEA-BC
We are at that time of year when many organizations ask their leaders to nominate staff for various clinical excellence awards. But will you take the time do it? Nurse leaders are busy. Writing a good award nomination application or letter takes time – for most nominations at least one hour. Time gets away from us and deadlines pass. Sometimes the very best nurses never get nominated for anything because no one takes the time to do it.
It is important that we begin to think of awards differently – as an investment – because even a nomination can be significantly meaningful to a nurse or other staff member. Researchers, Kelly, Runge, and Spencer looked at the predictors of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction in acute care nurses. 16 In their work, they found that meaningful recognition (which in this study was identified as a nomination for the Daisy Award) had a significant impact on reducing burnout, increasing compassion satisfaction and improving retention, especially in the Millennial nurse cohort. But knowing that these awards make a difference does not make them easier to write.
Some leaders may write the nominations without telling the employee that they are doing it. While surprise awards are great, asking the nurse for input can make the application much richer. For major awards, you should ask nurses for their updated resumes and for one or two stories about the outcomes of their contributions. Putting a great nomination together with this information becomes much easier.
Some additional tips include:
- Create a timeline and start early so you don’t miss the deadline.
- Make sure the nurse meets all the criteria for the award.
- Include outcomes and contributions that relate directly to each of the criteria outlined for the award.
- Include stories and use examples to illustrate key points and demonstrate the passion of the applicant.
- Fill out every section in the award application – they are generally individually scored.
- Choose your words carefully as words have power – use words that are powerful such as “a can-do attitude” – “strong ability to connect with patients and families” – “unselfishly gives his/her time or energy” – “ignites engagement of others” – “committed professional” – “transformational leader” – “generous mentor” BUT accompany them with specific examples of behaviors to illustrate how.
- Write in an active voice and use the nurse’s name frequently throughout the narrative.
- Pay attention to word count – if you go beyond the word count, it may not appear in the final application.
- Proof-read everything you write.
- See every award as an opportunity to nominate one of your staff.
The next time you receive an award announcement that one or more of your staff would qualify for, don’t bypass the email or put the flyer under a stack of papers. See it as an investment opportunity to make your team stronger. Take the time to decide who your best candidates are, ask for their input and write the nomination. You won’t be sorry you did.
Read to Lead
Kelly L, Runge J, Spencer C. Predictors of compassion fatigue and compassion satisfaction in Acute Care Nurses. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 47(6), 522-28; 2015.
Rose Sherman’s new book – The Nurse Leader Coach: Become the Boss No One Wants to Leave is now available for pre-order. It will be released February 18th, 2019.
© emergingrnleader.com 2019