Measuring Business Relationships – Guess How Much I Love You


Relationships are important right? Building relations is part of everyday life – both at work and at home. Thankfully the CIPD is taking part in a new project to promote the importance of relationships and measure their effectiveness.

Wait a minute…what?

I can’t help but thinking this is the wrong way to raise the importance of relationships. Measuring something so inherent and intangible is always going to be difficult. The key problem for me is perfectly summed up by one of questions asked in the project’s agenda for Boards and Senior Management, “Does the method of measurement, analysis and the use made of the analysis interfere with the very relationships that it is measuring or result in un-relational outcomes”? Another one of those issues that where we’re concentrating so hard on quantifying that the purpose and meaning of the thing itself falls by the wayside.

If another organisation approached me and asked me to participate in measuring our relationship I would be more than a little confused. I’m not the only one. The suggestion has apparently been met with some violent reactions and been compared to measuring how much you love your children. Compared to something else that’s completely obvious and unnecessary to measure? I think there’s a point in there somewhere.

So far the project materials haven’t enlightened me. They’re peppered with great little catchphrases and home truths about relationships, but again these are pretty much no brainers, particularly to us HR pros. A quick Internet search on “measuring relationships” got to the bottom of it. It’s a technique originating in PR. I don’t wish to offend my friends working in that field, but public relations techniques are in the main designed to market (sell) products, people or organisations , a lot of which is one way. To me this jars somewhat as the headliner of a project designed to stop the abuse of relationships as merely a route to increasing revenue. As an aside, there’s always going to be an imbalance in relationships – one side who needs the other more – that’s what business is about. Taking the approach that this can be dispelled is blinkered to say the least.

And is it even necessary? All too often HR is accused of being to “processy”, and here comes along another technique to muddy the waters. Lofty ambitions to prevent leaders from treating staff as numbers and to stop organisations for squeezing pennies out of others are unlikely to be solved by another set of stats to be reported to Board. Someone who doesn’t recognise the worth of relationships isn’t going to be convinced by that.

Where solutions are needed, they are qualitative, not quantitative. We need to be able to furnish leaders with approaches to enrich existing partnerships, and build new ones. This includes imparting an understanding of neuroscience, effective communication and motivation. I can’t help but feel boiling relationships down to a set of numbers is the antithesis of this.

See what you think – “Tomorrow’s Relationships”


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