NLP Modelling to engage with Customers

NLP at work in Social Services

How a Social Services Department used NLP Theory and methodology to improve engagement.

During 2010 the Social Services Improvement Agency in Wales asked County Councils to be involved in a research project to identify the Skills, Knowledge and values required of Social Workers in the 21st Century.

Monmouthshire County Council’s Social services training manager and key staff from the social services department became excited about being involved and quickly set up a small project team to undertake the piece work.

Part of the aim was to identify how our social workers within multi disciplinary teams are making a positive difference to service users in terms of supporting them to achieve their own outcomes

This information would not only provide valuable feedback but also enable us to identify any areas for performance improvement, which would be in line with the experiences/expectations of service users and carers.

The project would seek to identify how Social Workers interact/engage with service users and work towards creating independence. We wanted to get real answers from service users and be able to sort and measure this information in order to find out who in our teams was making a positive difference and importantly, how they were doing it.

We wanted to dig deeper and find out about service users expectations about the way Social Workers behave, what service users values and beliefs were and how we can work in the best way to match their expectations and needs in the future.

Using behavioural modelling technologies and NLP theories we designed a questionnaire to test how social workers in Monmouthshire operate on a number of different levels. We linked all our research to Roberts Dilts theory of how people operate at the various Neurological Levels and how this affects their behavioural performance and therefore outcomes, across a range of situations.

Firstly, the team surveyed over 100 service users who had been discharged from Hospital and had recently accessed services via a Social worker. The Survey results were analysed against the Neurological Levels Model to help to identify performance in the areas of:-


The next stage involved video interviews with approximately 60 staff from the department ranging from student social workers, care assistants, managers and including the director of Social Services and CEO, asking open questions linked to the Neurological Levels model.

Throughout the project we gained a huge amount of new information as well as learning that certain social workers were making a significant positive impact on the quality of life of their service users.

We therefore utilised a qualified INLPTA trainer to undertake modelling interviews with these social workers to help identify conscious as well as unconscious competence, which we would then be able to impart to others via training, coaching and mentoring sessions. This helped us to elicit individual skills and the key components to successful individual engagement strategies.

We uncovered similarities between social workers providing "the best" as explained by the people receiving services.

We identified that these social workers have similar values, beliefs and behaviours and that they know the importance of the surrounding environments and how to make minute change which make a huge difference to the way we can provide the right services based on need, and in a way that removes dependence. These staff are creative, innovative and are able to provide services which are sustainable in the current climate of financial constraints.

Our social workers have also learned a lot about how they themselves work and this has reminded us all that knowing what is important to the service user is crucial in providing the right level of support.

Analysis of the information gathered has enabled us to identify a series of training outcomes which form a programme of professional development for our social workers which will make it possible for them to operate in a way that supports the on-going development of their competence.

The outcomes form a 4 day development programme which has been delivered as a pilot to qualified Social Workers working in community care services and since evaluating, will now become a core part of the training programme in the County of Monmouthshire

The outcomes are cross referenced to National Occupational Standards for Social Workers in order to ensure that the project stays grounded within professional codes of conduct and values and the project has now received national recognition from the Welsh Assembly Government and Care Council for Wales as an accolade finalist in Cardiff in June this year.

John McConnachie is Principal Training Manager for Monmouthshire County Council, Ilm Coach, NLP Master Practitioner and INLPTA Certified trainer of NLP

Submitted by John McConnachie, Professional Member

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