The Power of Recognition

Brandon Hall Group’s latest talent management research says that two-thirds of organizations gain increased employee engagement from rewards and recognition efforts. After experiencing the Excellence Conference 17 the last week of January, I am here to tell you that awards and recognition are also plenty effective in engaging and inspiring HCM leaders.

About 400 winners of Brandon Hall Group’s 2016 HCM Excellence Awards jammed into the ballroom at PGA National Resort and Spa in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, to be formally recognized for their leading practices and innovative projects that drove break-through business results at their organizations. Winners traveled from 15 foreign countries – including Australia, India, United Arab Emirates, Turkey and seven countries in Europe – to receive a trophy and learn from, and network with, their fellow award winners.


Two recipients of Brandon Hall Group Excellence Awards at the
HCM Excellence 2017 Conference in South Florida.

More than 40 award-winners – mostly executives from Fortune 1000 organizations — served as panelists, discussion leaders, and workshop consultants in the 2½-day educational program. Iconic organizations that shared lessons learned included Accenture, Bank of America, Cigna, Cisco, Ericsson, GE, General Mills, Genpact, IBM, Intel, MasterCard, McDonald’s, McKinsey, MetLife, the National Basketball Association, Shell, and many more.

And the great thing, now that the 2016 winners have been recognized and had the opportunity to collaborate with their peers to foster future excellence, is that it all starts again.

The 2017 HCM Excellence Awards are now open, with applications for the coveted HCM awards due April 21. (A separate technology awards program opens May 11). We get hundreds of applications from around the world in 6 divisions – Learning & Development, Leadership Development, Talent Management, Talent Acquisition, Workforce Management/HR, and Sales Performance. In those divisions, there are more than 85 categories. Because Brandon Hall Group has research and consulting practices in each of these HCM functions, we understand the myriad functions of each practice and create specific, nuanced categories of recognition that otherwise can be overlooked – both in terms of external recognition and even within a company.

Winners from both awards programs will again be honored at Excellence Conference 18, Jan. 30-Feb. 2.

“Brandon Hall Group’s awards program – and this conference – gives myself and my team the kind of recognition and validation we need to keep the momentum going for change and our improvement in our organization,” said one award-winner. “Winning an award from Brandon Hall Group is a big deal – it helps us in so many ways.”

Most award-winning organizations publicize their award wins on their web sites and internally within their organizations. The case studies generated from the awards entries provide a new generation of leading practices that deliver insights and incentives to spur even more innovation.

Alex Goryachev, Cisco’s senior direct for innovation strategy and programs and winner of the Merging Stars award, forcefully advocated for innovation and new thinking in order to propel organizations forward. John Sculley, the legendary chairman of PeopleTicker and former CEO of Apple and Pepsi, shared his vision of the new workforce. And in breakout sessions, presenters focused on sharing insights and creating take-aways and action steps to be utilized back home.

Said one attendee of the Managing Generations session on Jan. 27: “The award winner from SunTrust Bank talked about the financial wellness programs for their employees, which made sense to me because if their employees aren’t financially savvy, then how can they expect their employees to be passionate in delivering services to their customers. This inspired me to introduce a student loan match that could be part of total rewards. One thing we noticed from millennials in this last election was the burden of their student loan debt. If we can subsidize that in some way, then perhaps we can improve our retention and reduce turnover.”

Said another participant of that session: “Managing boomers was a great session because the Brandon Hall Group leader in the room was engaged and openly shared perspective, plus the SunTrust presenter was engaging with the audience. This was a discussion, a collaboration, not just another breakout. It’s what sets this conference – and this awards/recognition program – apart from all the others.”

-Claude Werder, VP/Research Operations and Principal HCM Analyst, Brandon Hall Group

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Mike Cooke



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Mike Cooke

Chief Executive Officer of Brandon Hall Group Mike Cooke Prior to joining Brandon Hall Group, Mike Cooke was the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of AC Growth. Mike held leadership and executive positions for the majority of his career, at which he was responsible for steering sales and marketing teams to drive results and profitability. His background includes more than 15 years of experience in sales, marketing, management, and operations in the research, consulting, software and technology industries. Mike has extensive experience in sales, marketing and management having worked for several early high-growth emerging businesses and has implemented technology systems to support various critical sales, finance, marketing and client service functions. He is especially skilled in organizing the sales and service strategy to fully support a company’s growth strategy. The concept of growth was an absolute to Mike and a motivator in starting AC Growth, in order to help organizations achieve research driven results. Most recently, Mike was the VP and General Manager of Field Operations at Bersin & Associates, a global analyst and consulting services firm focused on all areas of enterprise learning, talent management and talent acquisition. Tasked with leading the company’s global expansion, Mike led all sales operations worldwide. During Mike’s tenure, the company has grown into a multi-national firm, conducting business in over 45 countries with over 4,500 multi-national organizations. Mike started his career at MicroVideo Learning Systems in 1992, eventually holding a senior management position and leading all corporate sales before founding Dynamic Minds. Mike was CEO and Co-Founder of Dynamic Minds, a custom developer of software programs, working with clients like Goldman Sachs, Prentice Hall, McGraw Hill and Merrill Lynch. Also, Mike worked for Oddcast, a leading provider of customer experience and marketing solutions, where he held a senior management position leading the company into new markets across various industries. Mike also serves on the Advisory Board for Carbon Solutions America, an independent sustainability consulting and carbon management firm that specializes in the design and implementation of greenhouse reduction and sustainability plans as well as managing the generation of carbon and renewal energy and energy efficiency credits. Mike attended University of Phoenix, studying Business Administration and Finance. He has also completed executive training at the Chicago Graduate School of Business in Chicago, IL.