Relationship Audits

I’ve been reflecting on the day spent learning about the Relationships Foundation‘s new tool, the Relationship Health Audit. It’s based on a model of organisational relationships which looks at five broad aspects of the health of a relationship.

Commonality – valuing similarity and difference

Parity – the use and abuse of power

Multiplexity – breadth of knowledge

Continuity – shared time over time

Directness – the quality of the communication process

That framework is explained in more detail here.In order to pursue this I had to park my own mental model (ie prejudice) about words like “tools” to describe things to do with managing people and the limits of psychometrics etc.

Actually, I thought their approach made a lot of sense and may prove a simple, non-threatening way for organisations to pay attention to the quality of their relationships, instead of the traditional focus only on the transactions within them. I think the word “audit” gives a somewhat misleading idea of what this process does. “Audit” is normally associated with putting fixed values on things, many of which are highly un-fixed and intangible. On the other hand, its origins are in the idea of hearing, which is a lot more human sounding.

The Foundation argues that this approach is more appealing to organisations which are wary of “touchy-feely” approaches to human isuses. That makes sense, though I think there is something a bit mythical about the idea that most people in organisations are very attached to purely mechanistic ideas of how to organise things. (More on this later.)

Anyhow, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and people in the session with me found that the Audit approach did help them identify relationship issues they’d not thought about before. And the idea is that the Audit assessment is not really an attempt to measure the health of a relationship – more a way of starting a conversation about it, which seems fairly practical to me.

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