I just came from guest lecturing at the Design school in a facilitation class. We talked about the art and science of focus groups. We discussed how focus groups were originally created to determine what features customers wanted in a product. Now we use focus groups for everything from needs assessment to program evaluation. However, the theme behind most focus groups is the importance of listening to the customer or client to guide our work. I also had a great conversation with a state specialist recently about how important it is to remember that customers guide our work and we need to listen and respond accordingly (within the boundaries of our mission). It reminded both of us that we don’t thank our clients/customers often enough for the good advice they give us. It also helped me remember how important clients are to making sure our programs meet important needs, are designed and delivered in ways that meet people where they are (rather than where we are), and result in deep impact. This all came together for me when I spent time with regional and county staff and Extension Council members at a regional gathering this week. They were taking the time to eat, talk, listen, and enahnce Extension programming with each other. Here are some characteristics of people who feel served by clients 1) listen, 2) empathize, 3) help others heal, 4) be aware, 5) persuade, 6) conceptualize, 7) have foresight, 8) be a steward, and 9) commit to the growth of people.* What have you done recently to listen to clients and help them feel they are right about our work?
*The Spirit of the Servant Leader edited by Frech and Spears.