Skipping a Grade – It Can Be Done, but Should It?

Jumping from a Level 1 to a Level 3 application can be done. But is it a smart strategy?

You had a terrific experience with your first TNCPE application — your organization created an in-house “Excellence Squad” to write it. You submitted a concise, but rich organizational profile. You celebrated your dive into Baldrige with an Interest Recognition Certificate at the Excellence Awards Banquet. You have Framework Fever, and the only prescription is more Baldrige.

So when the Excellence Squad meets to discuss the next award cycle, you float an idea: Why not skip Level 2, and  jump right to a Level 3 Award application?

You figure there’s no doubt your organization will be able to demonstrate significant progress, especially with the feedback you received from the thoughtful group of TNCPE examiners who visited your worksite. Plus, you attended the Application Workshop during the Excellence Conference, and you’re thinking about joining the TNCPE Board of Examiners.

We love enthusiasm at TNCPE, and we recognize that each organization’s journey is unique. But before you take the plunge from Level 1 to Level 3, we want to remind you of a few important factors.

It’s a continuum

First of all, each TNCPE application level is a continuum with lower, middle, and upper limits. Improvement alone does not ensure that you’ll move from one level to the next — often organizations show progress from year to year, yet continue to receive recognition within the same level. This doesn’t mean they’re treading water, it just means they haven’t met the standards of the next level yet. It’s a healthy part of the process.

It’s a big step

When you complete a Level 2 application, you’re moving from filling out a snapshot of your organization to addressing the Criteria’s “basic” requirements for all seven Categories. This is a significant step in terms of application length, leadership commitment, and workforce capacity.

That said, it will prove to be a very different experience from your Level 1 process. Why not use the Level 2 to introduce everyone to the uptick in intensity? Take the time to let your organization learn what to expect, without the added strain of the Level 3 self-assessment, which typically runs more than twice the page count of a Level 2, and includes a two-day site visit. Plus, you can use your Level 2 application as the groundwork for your Level 3 later.

Level 2 applicants get special treatment

Because of the increased application requirements mentioned above, your Level 2 Feedback Report is going to look a lot different than your Level 1 Feedback Report.

We want your organization to learn how to use the feedback for future improvements, so your Level 2 fee includes a Prioritizing Your Feedback workshop, delivered at your worksite after you receive your Feedback Report. This workshop is available to Level 2 applicants only.

During the half-day workshop, a trained TNCPE facilitator will review the Feedback Report with your leadership team, and guide your organization through a step-by-step process to prioritize short- and long-term actions plans that will drive improvements.

So think twice about skipping Level 2 – You might miss out on fortifying the cornerstones of your Excellence foundation.