hard to put your finger on it…

The North Face...

The challenge of measuring interpersonal improvement.

I have had a number of interesting conversations recently with clients I’ve been working with around improvement or change as a result of working together either in a coaching or a team development context (sometimes both).

I’m keen to test the reality of what has improved, or changed, as a result of work I’m commissioned to do, for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a major part of my values – that facilitation or coaching work should add value and make a difference, and that this difference is sustainable. Secondly, reflecting on the event(s) and process is helpful in itself to surface what’s gone well, and not so well, to consolidate learning and motivate for ongoing action. Finally, it’s important to me to get feedback directly from the Client on what’s ‘worked’, what’s ‘not worked’ for them. What’s been most effective or helpful. What’s been difficult or challenging. All to help me sharpen my own consultancy practice.

So, in one context, a number of the client group gave me feedback that things had improved following some work with Lifetree.
‘But it’s hard to put your finger on what’s changed, but things have definitely improved? was a consistent remark.

In another context, a client shared:
‘This feels quite different, so it must have made a difference!?
‘I’ve developed more confidence and ability to understand situations, and I’m more able to devise a strategy rather than get lost in it? (relating to people management/conflict).

Of course, contracting with a client/client group over what success looks like at the outset of development work is critical in this regard. Even although it’s difficult to find clear improvement outcomes, engaging thoughtfully in dialogue around this should not be avoided. These outcomes or improvements then become the ‘benchmark’ to reflect and assess learning and also agree what further development may be required if anything.

A theme that has been emerging for me across a number of interventions. How generosity of mind, or spirit, can transform interpersonal relationships, and therefore enhance performance. Much more could be said about this, but not in the context of this short blog article.

Thinking about this, my mind began to consider images that might capture some of this complexity. I picked the photo I took of the North Face of Ben Nevis from Banavie this Christmas. You can see the mountain, but not fully. It’s there, but it’s not clear. The foreground is clear, with the crisp frost shrouding the trees. But the North Face remains elusive.

Now, if only I knew what it looked like, if only I had taken a snapshot when things were clear, if only I had a frame of reference, then things would be much clearer…

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