Rookie of the Year

Every year the SPQA recognizes special examiners who have contributed greatly to the success of the Award Program. This peer recognition from team members and team leadership is delivered through three special awards: Above and Beyond Award, Rookie of the Year Award, and Examiner of the Year.

The Rookie of the Year Recognition is awarded to first year examiners who demonstrate active participation in team activities, collaboration with other team members, enthusiasm, initiative, professionalism, growth in their understanding of the criteria, and quality work. As a volunteer examiner, the learning curve is great and these two co-recipients, Kate Bradshaw and Joni Mixon demonstrated great commitment and dedication to the process as new examiners this year.

Kate Bradshaw

Joni Mixon

What encouraged/ motivated you to apply and become an SPQA Baldrige Examiner this past year?  

Kate: I wanted to learn more about Baldrige criteria and see how organizations apply them in their organizations. Over the past 20 years, I serve as the accreditation and regulatory compliance coordinator and have gone through multiple regulatory surveys. Serving as a Baldrige examiner allows me the opportunity to act as a surveyor and experience compliance from a different angle.

Joni: I volunteered to become an SPQA Baldrige Examiner to enhance my career path. This course provided me a systematic approach to conduct interviews with cemetery Directors and gave me insight on how to write Strengths and Opportunities for Improvement (OFIs) for our preliminary and final findings reports. I was recently promoted to a new position that involves the Baldrige Performance Excellence Framework (PEF).

Being an Examiner for the SPQA is a significant time commitment, how have you been able to successfully juggle and meet the examiner requirements while maintaining good work/life balance?

Kate: I set aside a few hours on weekends and in the evenings to complete the assignments. Our team held weekly meeting which helped us to stay on task. Our mentor has been helpful in coaching us. It was not easy to juggle work/home and the SPQA activities but our whole team survived by helping each other out.

Joni: My Director gave me time during the workday to complete my Baldrige assignments. I managed my personal time and getting my Baldrige work completed by working some evenings and on some weekends.

Why should an organization choose to use the Baldrige Criteria for Excellence to drive improvement?

Kate: Baldrige criteria provides a roadmap for an organization to successfully execute strategic plans. It is a systematic approach to ensure each segment of the organization has set guidelines to help them achieve success. Each criterion ties back to leadership and mission and holds the leaders accountable for actions.

Joni: All organizations need to continually improve their operations and efficiency. The Baldrige Criteria for Excellence provides them a fresh set of eyes to analyze its current business structure and identify areas of improvements to assist them in becoming a first-class organization.

What have you learned about yourself while being an SPQA Baldrige Examiner?

Kate: I have learned to be a better listener and reviewer because I am reviewing an organization that I am not familiar with. By reviewing my team-mates’ comments and viewpoints, I have gained new knowledge and new perspectives. I also learn to be more organized so that I can get things done in a timely manner.

Joni:  I learned quite a bit about myself during the SPQA Baldrige Examiner period. First, I should take every opportunity to increase my knowledge and broaden my experience relative to all aspects of my position. Second, the training and interaction with my team and team leaders has made me more confident to be a Baldrige Examiner. I had a great team and amazing team leaders who were always willing to assist me with my questions. I’m grateful to have been a part of this program and I look forward to future opportunities to work as an SPQA Baldrige Examiner.