Relationships - the key to successful implementation

Communicating and engaging with all stakeholders is as an important aspect of implementing a service. There is now a greater understanding that the quality of that engagement can strengthen collaboration and ultimately make a difference for people and families using services.

‘The power of trusted relationships in implementation’ was the theme of an event marking the completion of the National Lottery Community Fund Reaching Out, Supporting Families Programme in Northern Ireland. CES has been working with projects funded through the programme over the past seven years, supporting them to implement their projects and capturing useful learning from that experience for service providers and commissioners.

Contributors to this final event included Paul Sweeney from The National Lottery Community Fund, Northern Ireland, Allison Metz from the University of North Carolina, Jacinta Lindon from Bolster Community, and Melanie Stone from CES.

Contributors considered the role of relationships in designing and delivering services. Key themes emerging included:

Involving parents as partners in services

The investment in building relationships with families over time led to the development or, in some cases, strengthening of parental involvement in co-designing service improvements and service redesign. Families were partners in the successful implementation of the Programme. Their involvement encouraged other parents to trust the services. Parents took on many different roles - as volunteers, mentors, ambassadors, steering group members and board members.

Good relationships help innovation and problem solving to thrive

Partnership working on the Programme was enabled by strong relationships which developed between services and the people working within them. Organisations were committed to sharing knowledge and learning, trying new approaches, and saw failure as an opportunity to learn and improve. Being comfortable with uncertainty and risk requires strong, trusting relationships.

Trusting relationships help to enable and sustain change

Trust leads to an improved sense of capability and motivation, opens up opportunities, improves communication, collaboration, commitment, and builds resilience in the face of implementation challenges.

“The one ask, to the right person who remains curious can lead to powerful transformation.”

Using curiosity and a non-judgmental approach can help to build strong, trusting relationships across all levels in implementation – from partnerships between funders and service providers through to engagement with the children and families receiving support from your service.

Missed this event? Watch the recording here


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