As OD practitioners, it is paramount that we are mindful of our use of self during client engagements. In her article, Mona Pandeya offers powerful self-reflection and intention setting tools to explore and build self-awareness so that we are able to employ use of self artfully in diversity and inclusion engagements. Such self-reflection can lead to a deeper understanding of our triggers and our motivators in order to show up as our best selves when working with our clients.
It is clear that we must partake in continuous self-reflection. And we also need to assess the quality of our self-reflection. Are we being honest with ourselves regarding our impact, for example? Interestingly enough, research into self-awareness indicates that an overwhelming majority of the population misses the mark when it comes to accurately assessing our self-awareness. According to Dr. Tasha Eurich, an organizational psychologist and executive coach, a mere 10 - 15% of the population is actually self-aware. In other words, the majority of people do not see themselves clearly or understand how they impact others.
What does this mean for OD practitioners for whom use of self is vital? How can we ensure that our self-reflection is accurate and that we are truly aware of how we "show up" with our clients? Maintaining a positive use of self is our intent, for sure, but how do we measure our effectiveness?
We OD practitioners value the importance of feedback and, as such, many of us conduct post-evaluations of our engagements to make sure that we have serviced the client well. It is also important to gather data periodically during the engagement about our use of self within the system (when possible). The best way to incorporate this feedback loop is to contract with the client in the beginning of the engagement. This allows us to set the expectation that we will ask for their feedback and it also signals that we are committed to our craft.
The best method for soliciting the feedback depends on the system and the nature of the relationship with the client. My preference is to schedule a debrief meeting or call after each major milestone in the engagement and to ask the questions directly. Another option is to use an electronic survey instrument at key points during the engagement.
Here are a few questions OD practitioners might consider asking clients to validate our use of self:
How would you describe my overall presence?
How effective have I been as an instrument of change in your organization?
In what ways could I be more effective at supporting your organization during this engagement?
What impact is my presence having on you, the engagement, and the organization?
What else would you like me to know?
Internal and External OD Practitioners are committed to use of self and, as such, have a responsibility to build our self-awareness by assessing the effectiveness of our use of self. Asking for feedback can be daunting, but it serves as a way to measure the accuracy of our self-awareness. We are human just like everyone else and, as such, we may not be able to fully see ourselves. By asking our clients for feedback we gain valuable information that can help us measure our self-awareness and adjust as needed. Our clients will appreciate us for being intentional about how we use ourselves as an effective instrument of change.