Honeywell’s annual Big Red H Award Program created lasting behavior changes and played a key role in developing world-class communications professionals who contributed to company success.
In the mid-eighties, few standards existed among Honeywell’s Aerospace and Defense communications professionals. Communicators ranged from those who thought their jobs consisted of writing and SOS—sending out stuff—and those who created strategic communications to help leaders manage organizational change and achieve company goals.
Not surprisingly, the company valued the second group highly. So, their leaders launched a program called the Big Red H. The goal was to encourage best-in-class work and develop high-quality professionals.
The Big Red H Program consisted of three steps:
- At the end of each year, communicators submitted their best work for evaluation by a group of experts.
- The submission process required communicators to describe their project, identify quantitative objectives, provide an audience analysis for each stakeholder group, and define their strategy to mitigate resistance for each project they submitted. In addition, and this was the most important element, communicators needed to list the measurable results they achieved. For novice communicators, completing the submission to The Big Red H Program created awareness about the elements of an excellent communication plan. For more experienced professionals, the process served to reinforce what it took to be a world-class communicator.
- All communicators were invited to attend an annual best-in-class communications conference whether they’d submitted a project or not. During that conference, people were honored, projects highlighted, awards presented, and communicators had a chance to learn and share best practices.
The program was beautiful in its design and simplicity because it:
- Provided ongoing awareness about the value of strategic communications—not just to the communicators but to the leaders they supported as well.
- Created the desire among communications professionals to adopt best practices and to be recognized as highly competent among peers and leadership.
- Reinforced ongoing behavior and actions throughout the Aerospace and Defense Group to be a strategic communicator whose work made a difference to the success of the company.
What type of organizational change do you want to achieve in your company? How might an awards program create awareness and reinforce the behavior you want?