Closing a perception gap with training providers


Client: A professional membership and qualification body in accountancy.

Licensee: KPMG.

The CEO of the client group was concerned about its relationship with two partner organisations who recruited and trained the students who would become the Membership of the future by qualifying in the professional standards set. The relationship was not financial but was entirely symbiotic.

The issue

There was no particular issue with either of the relationships, however they were going through a process of setting mutually beneficial strategies and the CEO wanted to create the best possible relationship going forward.

The major project challenge was to convince the two training organisations that they were not being punished, and to get their agreement to participate. KPMG’s independent facilitation of the process and the two-way nature of the Relational Health Audit were instrumental in addressing this.

Once the surveys were completed and analysed, two workshops were set up to deal separately with each training provider. One proved easier to set up quickly than the other and this made a significant difference to the usefulness of the intervention for both sides. Led by the CEO, the parties adopted an appreciative approach to the discussion, offering improvement actions to help each other achieve relational ideals. This was extremely effective.

Type of project

Standalone, one-off project, organisation to organisation.

Key insights

Low or high scores are not always the most important factor. Often what matters is the ability of the process to close a perception gap. When there is evidence of a willingness by either party to close the gap, improvement in the relationship and trust between the parties can be almost instantaneous.

When two leadership teams have an evidence-based discussion about their respective organisations’ perceptions, they can often generate the commitment to act. As one of the CEOs put it: “I want our organisations to have a good relationship. If your team are telling us they only get 90% of what they expect in any area shown on the audit, then I want my team to be moving that to 100%. Every incremental gain must be worth having.”


The parties agreed to a relational action plan that they would cascade through their organisations. As a result of the intervention, both parties acknowledged that their strategic discussion was more productive and efficient than it otherwise would have been.

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