We Don’t Need No Stinking Badges. Or do we?

Posted by Alana Kadden Ballon on Sep 03, 2013

BadgesCertification. A knot builds in your stomach. Test taking, once a thing of the past, is back in your life.

Whether you are going through a messaging or technology certification for your employer or partner, certification can still produce a level of anxiety and definitely hours of extra work. Certification can also help us grow our careers:  keeping technology certifications current can increase the wage we can ask from future employers.

The truth is, those of us who build and administer certifications don’t like them either. They are seen as a necessary evil, like the prick before a blood draw, that keeps workforce messaging and implementation skills at a certain level.

You may think certification is only for big companies… and you are a startup! Think certification isn’t for you?

Ask yourself and your team:

    • Do we want our team to deliver the same message?
    • Do we want to ensure a certain level of competence in implementation?
    • What do we need to have our stamp of approval on outside of the organization?

So, how can you set your team up for success? There are ways to make certifications more effective and enriching for your team. Here’s how:

1) Measurement transparency

Tell employees how they will be assessed. Don’t make it a surprise. We share the exact categories and score rubric that are used during certification when we send out the initial materials.  If they know what you consider successful, they can make sure to prepare comprehensively and can’t say, “I didn’t know.”

2) Test on reasonable amounts of content

We recommend between 2-4 certifications per year. Estimate the time it will take to prepare for the certification based on the information that the audience already has. Understand the 3-5 things you want them to be able to say or do after certification is complete. Do you have extraneous content you are asking them to learn that isn’t key to what you are trying to accomplish? How else can they learn that content?

3) Learn from peers

The best certifications we’ve designed and administered allow team members to learn from each other. Whether you have a team in a room or a web meeting, letting each participant see a few examples and provide feedback let’s them take great tactics from their teammates and learn from stumbles collectively.

4) Trumpet success

People like rewards. For internal certifications, give badges through tools like Work.com, create certificates and give prizes to top performers. For partners, create certificates, logos they can put on their website, and highlight certified partners on your own site. Some companies even issue press releases for newly certified partners.