Getting great feedback shows how to create value

I had the most enjoyable time recently working with people in not for profit businesses who are doing great work and making a difference in the area in which they are based. Both offered me feedback on the difference my work with them made to the business and their people, and importantly, the impact of their work my contribution has made.  It led me to consider how trainers and coaches should show they deliver value and how this is achieved.

What I like about feedback is that it validates that I have done a good job and it's a way of showing other current and potential clients what I can do.  These are powerful testimonials that I hope will encourage others looking to do similar work and who are in need of a facilitator and trainer to get in touch with me!  Here is the feedback on what I did and what the outcomes were, followed by an attempt to extract the "value" lessons.

Board of Trustees and Manager Away Day

I facilitated a Board and Senior Management team away day for East Surrey YMCA, a large multi service, inclusive community based business providing social housing at the sharp end, children and young people's services, healthy living solutions and much more. The aim of the day was to enable everyone (23 people) to get to know each other, be inspired to get involved and contribute ideas to the future the organisation.  We tackled some BIG issues like governance, financial sustainability and succession planning.  After facilitating a range of enjoyable, creative and energising activities in a workshop style, everyone had taken part and produced fantastic actions and ideas.  

"Thanks for typing all this {feedback} up.  I will use it to deliver a follow up session at our forthcoming Board Meeting.  I thought the day went well and was pleased to get such a good turnout of obviously committed and knowledgeable trustees.  I thought you managed the day extremely well, keeping energy levels high and getting great input from all our staff and members.  I have had a few people come back to me to say how much they enjoyed the day and I think that was largely down to your skills as a facilitator!

"Thanks again for all your support and hope we can continue to work together in the future".

Ian Burks, CEO

Capacity Building Programme for Leaders

The second organisation is Surrey Community Action, a Countywide infrastructure organisation, for whom I am in the midst of delivering a capacity building programme for leaders of smaller charities and social enterprises. This is especially important right now because this sector needs to develop a more enterprising mindset quickly and achieve long term sustainability in new and more business based ways.  My role is to help develop the skills and knowledge its leadership needs to address this. I provide bite size training on leading and managing change which is supplemented with 1-2-1 follow up coaching to support the embedding of learning and action plans.  One of the participants has this to say:

Hi Amanda,

I think I will be OK!  In fact that session was more helpful than you can imagine.  By the end of that day I had written a PowerPoint presentation about the way forward for our organisation, then I presented it to our leadership team and those that were there were unanimously in agreement that my proposal was the way forward.

I highlighted the key issues, the single point of failure, the current state and the future state, plus a high level timeline on getting from A to B!  Thank you so much, the morning was a total blessing and I have been evangelising about how good it was!  Please feel free to use my testimony to promote your work!

Karen Kendall, Partnership Development Officer, CTC

Businesses are always looking for evidence of the impact of training or facilitated work as there needs to be a return on their investment when they engage someone like me.  I couldn't agree more that training needs to demonstrate how it contributes to change and gives value.

This is about what we do together!

At the end of the day, clients want to know what I can DO for them.  My approach to my facilitation role maximises the potential for this to work and to have the impact they are seeking.   In both these pieces of work we didn't use happy sheets, feedback forms and complicated measurements and no one I consulted with wanted to nail down metrics and formulae.  We worked more intuitively, collaboratively, involving, discussing, brainstorming, communicating, listening and letting the final activity evolve and be created through a joint effort.  

In a sense we all strive to create value in our lives. As human beings we can't do this in isolation and nor can organisations. I don't consider that I create value for clients alone. I see myself as an "agent" offering my skills, expertise and energy to combine with that of my clients and their people to create value together.    As my testimonials also show, individuals have to take responsibility, get real about what has to be done and then "go do".  When we have achieved value together, engagement and ownership is high and the personal motivation is there to do that.  

After reflecting on the feedback, my insight is that I understand better why clients engage me, what they want me to help them with and how.  They want competence, the task completed, their needs and wants met and for me to be tuned in to the whole business.  My challenge is to tune my model of consulting and keep that two way relationship front and centre so I continue to find the value lessons.