Archive for category Effectiveness
One of the significant changes in the new Matrix quality assurance framework for careers services is an increased emphasis on evaluating the outcomes of our work with clients.
The most significant changes are the increased focus on outcomes, competence of staff, commitment to continuous improvement, service delivery linked to outcomes and responses to information technology advances.
A few services who have stuck with collecting more traditional feedback on their services have been judged as falling short in this area. Just asking clients whether they found a session useful or interesting is not enough any more (if it ever was).
In the Value and Impact Toolkit developed by the Association of Managers of Student Services in Higher Education (AMOSSHE), measures of impact are differentiated from measures of satisfaction.
Impact is about change, which implies that a situation needs to be evaluated before an action to stimulate change takes place, and after to determine whether indeed change has taken place. Impact might also be evaluated in terms of the effect of an activity on different groups; for example, students might attend a particular programme on a voluntary basis, so impact might be measured after the programme takes place in relation to the knowledge levels of those who attended against those who did not attend.
So what else could you measure and what would it tell you about the impact you are having?
Way back in 2009 I wrote about the social rejection self-fulfilling prophecy. This relates to the unfortunate fact that, if you expect someone you meet for the first time not to like you, you tend to behave more distantly towards them. This increases the chances that they won’t like you. The reverse is also true: if you assume that you will be liked, you tend to behave more warmly and thus increase your chances of being liked.
People who have high levels of social anxiety tend to fall into the trap of negative expectations. They are particularly sensitive to the possibility of social rejection. This threat triggers an avoidance approach which makes them behave defensively in unfamiliar social settings, leading to less than warm responses from the strangers they interact with. This, in turn, confirms their fears and insecurity about social rejection. A vicious circle.
This self-fulfilling prophecy can be a major handicap when it comes to career development. It means you are less likely to engage in appropriate professional networking, cutting off potentially useful sources of information, insight and advice which could boost your career. It makes you less likely to create a positive first impression during an interview. It can also affect your ability to establish important relationships in the crucial first few days of a new job.
How do you break out of this trap?
A few months ago I delivered a keynote address on continuing professional development as part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Seminar Series entitled Re-framing Service Delivery, Professional Practices and Professional Identities in UK Careers Work. At heart, these seminars bring people together (across professional disciplines) to share ideas about aspects of career work. There are two more still to come, the next is scheduled for November 2011 in Glasgow at the University of the West of Scotland.
Every now and again during interview coaching, I will stop and ask the client, “What do you think I’m looking for with that question?”. Having read an article by some organisational psychologists at the University of Zurich (Kleinmann et al., 2011), I’m going to ask that question a lot more.