President Bush and I fight a similar battle

Posted on January 24, 2007. Filed under: Blog--All categories, Management development |

Tonight in President Bush’s State of the Union address he talked about measuring the success of our fight against terrorism by what does NOT happen. I resonate with that sort of measurement because in my business of improving the communication skills of staff and managers, the results of my work are often difficult to measure. After all, as my clients employ the strategies they learn in my program the results they experience are: less resistance to change, greater cooperation from their staff, increased productivity, better relationships among staff and clients, fewer missed deadlines, better results because of better communication. The list goes on.

When clients ask me about the results they’ll receive from my programs, I tell them those results are immeasurable–not because I’m trying to impress them with the extent of the possibilities but because it’s difficult–impossible?–to measure the things that don’t happen because we’re improving our communication skills.

Imagine this scenario: your boss asks you what return on investment you’ve received as a result of attending one of my communication programs based on understanding your coworkers. In the program, you learned about the attitudes and values that drive your behaviors and the behaviors of others. Now that you understand those attitudes and values, you’ve learned to tailor your communication to appeal to the communication style of your staff and coworkers. Since you’ve been doing that, you notice that deadlines are being met and you are getting quicker buy in to the projects you involve them in.

Do you say to your supervisor that you’ve learned to control your delivery? Do you tell your supervisor that you are taking time to get to know your staff? Do you tell your supervisor that you are taking responsibility for the results you’re getting? Maybe. But can you measure the number of conflicts you haven’t had? Can you measure the amount of stress you are not experiencing? Can you measure the number of deadlines that haven’t been missed?

Just like President Bush’s point of not being able to count the number of terrorist attacks that haven’t happened, I have difficulty counting the number of bad communication events my clients haven’t experienced. What I can measure is the number of repeat clients I have and the value they tell me they get from my programs. I’ll take that kind of measurement any day!

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