“We are all in charge of our own destiny and life is what you make it.”
This is the concept that Louise Frayne wanted to get across to a group of very academic employees, and she wanted to get them engaged on a more than intellectual level!
Louise, the founding Director of Equaliise, a Coaching and Organisational Development consultancy, takes a very creative approach to her work. She remembered reading Jo Bryant’s profile interview, “What can we learn from Puppets?” on the Drive website, so decided to explore a different way of looking at personal responsibility in the work place.
Louise is a member of Drive London and Jo is a member of Drive Cambridge. They hadn’t met until they got together to discuss this project so it’s wonderful that our particular way of networking brought them together!
From the very first discussion, Jo was excited about working with Louise’s unusual and creative approach and created a workshop that gave this group of employees a choice of how to get involved. Jo says what impressed her most was that Louise really cared for the welfare of these employees, and that this was apparent to them and why they approached the workshop with an open mind.
The workforce demographic had an average age of 36, for most staff this is their first or second job, 25% of staff have been with the organization for over 10 years, and 98% will have a first degree, 58% a Masters and 5% a doctorate. Not what anyone would call an easy audience!
The collaboration involved quite a bit of risk and required Louise and Jo to have a lot of trust in each other but the results more than paid off.
This is how it played out:
Jo brought along two young actors and some of The Hands-on Company puppets. They used a combination of short role plays with discussion points, activities, puppetry demonstrations and interactive scenarios.
The workshop delegates got involved in different situations to highlight assertiveness, managing others with fairness, clear communication and approaching the work place as somewhere where you can make sure both yourself and those around you have a good day. There was lots of laughter and enthusiasm and everyone felt comfortable contributing in their own way.
Using a particularly large and hairy puppet to describe our internal dialogue, Jo showed how we give ourselves a hard time with a stern, telling off voice but when we use a quieter, kind, and supportive inner voice, it can be like a soft cuddle. This hit home with one delegate who had a quiet tear about how important it is to be the cheerleader to our own lives.
Another role play saw the young actors in a tea break moaning about work, the rubbish coffee and the weather. Three members of the audience joined in to help cheer them up and encourage them to take responsibility for their own happiness, which soon became truly funny and uplifting. A complete exaggeration of an everyday situation, but it had the desired effect to put smiles on everyone’s face.
Louise described the key success factors: Staff are still talking about the workshop (there have even been some purchases of puppets!) Staff are now taking much greater responsibility for their careers and actively identifying opportunities and putting themselves forward for different activities. She has a very happy client.
For Jo, the best possible outcome is that Louise has invited The Hands-On Company back to do another workshop (and she has found good homes for some of her favourite puppets!)
It’s wonderful to see two members of Drive get together and use their respective skills to create something completely new that has such great results for both.
You can read more about Louise and Jo and the background to the project below:
Louise specialises in the delivery of high quality bespoke solutions to develop people to achieve more. She brings expertise in transformation programmes to build organisational resilience and anticipate external change – incorporating leadership development programmes for managers to lead change effectively; workshops and support for junior members of staff to believe they are empowered to be creative and innovative to influence change, and; coaching and mentoring for staff at all levels within the organisation. The initiatives Louise has introduced have seen her clients achieve Investor in People status, listings in The Sunday Times Top 100 Best Companies to Work for and the National Skills Agency Top 100 Employers of Apprenticeships.
Jo created The Hands-On Company to help people to reflect on behaviour and decision making through role play and puppetry. The Company is made up of a team of teachers, young actors and puppets. This is a gentle, sometimes poignant, sometimes funny way of seeing life. Everyone has something to offer, everyone is special and everyone can interact at a level that suits them on that particular day.
The starting point for the project was the feedback received from the Best Companies Engagement Survey. Best Companies has 8 factors on which staff are asked to rate how engaged they feel; the factors are: Leadership, My Company, My Team, My Manager, Well-being, Personal Growth, Fair Pay and Giving Something Back. The range of responses are: Strongly Negative, Negative, Mildly Negative, Neutral, Mildly Positive, Positive, Strongly Positive.
If you are a Drive Premium or Pro member and haven’t yet completed your Member Profile Interview or stepped up to do an “Ask the Expert” session, you could be missing out on some interesting opportunities!
This is Jo’s interview “What can we learn from puppets?”
“Sometimes when we run our businesses, we get bogged down in the worries of cash flow and energy dips, but it is the magical moments that help us to keep working at it. I continually feel privileged to be a part of these and I have the profound hope that there are many more to come.”
“Investment in a workforce or an individual reaps huge returns both in terms of optimal performance, morale, overall well-being and reputation management. The goals for each of my clients is different. I believe if I am not helping my clients get results, I am not delivering my own goals.”