Quality in Practice… the latest guidance on partnerships
Steven Keen and colleagues offer advice on getting the most out of partnerships
The final report of the Social Work Task Force in 2009 recommended the need for active quality partnerships between employers and social work educators, in order to improve initial social work training and continued professional development. Here are some research-based “do’s and don’ts” for improving any type of partnership.
What to try
1 If you can, work with people with whom you think you can trust and build strong relationships with – trust between people is needed as well as trust in the partnership’s systems and procedures.
2 Begin by setting small, achievable tasks and building up mutual trust gradually through achieving mutual small or early wins. Working together to achieve a common goal improves relationships, not focusing on the goals themselves.
3 Define value for all partners up front and make it visible. Make sure you have facts available to avoid getting pulled into arguments about perceptions and accusations of shifting goalposts.
4 Remember that marginalisation, not conflict, is what prevents partnerships from succeeding.
Shift thinking from “magical prescriptions” towards “good enough” resolutions.
What not to do
1 Don’t assume that conflict is a sign of impending failure – or that the absence of conflict is a sign of success.
2 Don’t rely on facts alone – expectations, perceptions and assumptions are the substance of partnerships. Bring these elements into dialogue and be open to what they tell you.
3 Don’t worry if harmony is absent – work to focus on the value all parties expect to achieve and take action to maximise it.
4 Don’t forget – it is the response to difference rather than difference itself that is the underlying cause of conflict.
● This article is based on a chapter from Partnerships, Continuing Professional Development and the Accreditation of Prior Learning by Keith Brown, Steven Keen, Lynne Rutter and Angela Warren. The book is available at £15 and is published by Learn to Care, which represents people in workforce development in personal social services. For more information call 01202 964765 or visit http://www.learntocare.org.uk