Best of peak practice

Galaxy radio managing director Matthew Levington looks back at the benefits
of a Derbyshire-based outdoor teambuilding course with the intriguingly-named
top-banana

Experiential development project

Designed and delivered by: top-banana global
3 The Pavilions, Brighton Road, Pease Pottage, West Sussex RH11 9BJ
Phone: 01293 543888
www.top-banana.org
 
Galaxy 102 is part of the Chrysalis Radio Group and one of the five regional
radio stations forming the UK Galaxy network.

Chrysalis Radio – which also operates Heart 106.2 and Heart 100.7 in London
and the West Midlands – is a fast-developing organisation that has enjoyed
excellent growth in its audiences, with over 5 million listeners tuning in each
week.

Two years ago, I was managing director for the Yorkshire-based station,
Galaxy 105. The station had been enjoying fantastic growth, and had
over-achieved on targets. The management team needed to maintain this
performance and morale as the station stabilised its growth.

The challenge was to:

– Develop confidence and flexibility in leadership styles

– Build the key qualities of team trust, support and motivation

– Boost revenue through an effective communication and support network

– Develop internal talent through improved management effectiveness

– Develop our dynamic culture

I was keen to explore the possibilities of experiential learning, as I had
been impressed by the immediate and lasting results I experienced a few years
earlier on a similar course.

It was crucial that Galaxy found a training organisation that would add
value as well as understand our business and culture, and develop an effective
working partnership. We chose top-banana global, a national, Sussex-based
training and development company.

top-banana had just started working with Chrysalis, and was delivering a
series of HR seminars to the senior management team.

We needed the company to understand the business and the individuals and
challenge the way we do things – and we wanted to have fun, too.

I have met previous training providers who just "come in and do" –
top-banana was immediately different from that. The team really wanted to get
to know us, to understand how we work. They asked questions, spent time in the
station, they talked to the team – and then they began to offer answers to our
problems.

The Solution

The director and management team consisted of 10 people. top-banana
specifically designed and recommended an intensive inspirational leadership and
personal impact programme that would take us away from our usual office
environment.

It was agreed that the course would be run in the Peak District, as that
would most suit the team, and that we would include part of the weekend in the
programme to reduce time away from the station.

It was vital that all members of the team bought in to the process. This is
where the top-banana team started to show that they meant business. A trained
executive-coach spent time with each of the managers, to understand what they
wanted to achieve, both personally and professionally.

top-banana has a knack of understanding exactly what is being said – whether
verbalised or not. Consequently, it designed a programme that exactly matched
our needs. This process also allowed top-banana to identify the perfect
delivery style, strengths and attitudes and individual’s learning needs.

The programme activities were designed around the business objectives and
also each of the personal requirements. A team of designers, management
facilitators and experiential learning experts was assigned to the team.
top-banana then worked backwards from each of our objectives, broke it down
into specific competency outcomes and then applied experiential activities that
would ensure that each area would be identified.

A clear plan of activity review was integral to the top-banana approach.
This included facilitated new skills input sessions, performance reviews,
personal coaching sessions and less formal discussions. Then further activities
were planned to allow the individuals to experiment with new, flexible and
dynamic ways of dealing with work situations.

We had regular contact with the project manager during this process and that
this person would also be leading the actual training event.

It was also important that the people we met initially were involved
throughout the project. In fact, they facilitated the programme and the
follow-on event that we planned as part of the programme.

Inspirational Leadership

We arrived in Derbyshire on a Sunday afternoon – with most people displaying
slight reservations at what lay ahead. Within a couple of hours, however, we
relaxed and began to have fun.

The instructors explained that this way of learning was probably one of the
safest and most effective methods known, as there are no preconceptions about
how we would all act, behave and perform.

At work, we all have certain expectations, both about others, and ourselves,
and tend to perform to type. In this environment, and with insight from
instructors, it was OK to experiment with different ways of behaviour.

We were encouraged to change our usual leadership styles, push our comfort
zones, to break through any limitation and achieve things we never dreamed
could be possible.

top-banana showed a real openness to helping us and, discussion facilitated
by them led to many breakthrough decisions being made both professionally and
personally.

Each new skill or way of doing things was explored and brought to life and
always made relevant to the workplace. This was reinforced through planned
regular facilitated discussions and one-to-one meetings with the top-banana
team.

The activities we actually did were secondary to the learning outcomes. This
helped us achieve our business objectives and gain a huge amount personally. We
learned about ourselves, as well as real techniques for leading, influencing,
coaching and communicating with each other and clients.

Those three-and-a-half days had a profound impact on the way we work as a
management team – as individuals and as a group. We came back to the office
enriched, energised, motivated, and fundamentally different in our approach
towards the business.

We are able to negotiate better, give more honest, direct feedback, coach
and lead our business forward with the knowledge that we have tried and tested
our personal flexibility through the programme.

And the results?

Outstanding! Leading on from that one course, everyone wanted more, and so
top-banana has been working closely with the group ever since.

Each programme it runs with a different group of people is specifically
designed to achieve not only the business objectives but also the personal
ones. The solutions are hard hitting and they really work.

Long-term behavioural problems that we had failed to rectify through the
usual appraisal processes were solved almost overnight. Mental barriers
limiting personal achievement were removed increasing team and overall business
performance. Greater empathy between separate functions created the right
environment for the whole company to operate as a single team focussed on
achieving our overall business goals.

And it is by no means just the experiential leadership programmes which
top-banana runs – we have worked with the company for our 360-degree feedback
project, communication skills, performance management seminars, one-to-one
coaching and more.

Martyn Healy, managing director of Galaxy 105-106 in Newcastle said,
"The top-banana people are superb observers and conduct regular coaching
that allow the individual to see their own potential.

"The course is designed to develop individuals and the personal
realisations have impacted on the effectiveness of individuals and hence the
company.

"I have recommended top-banana global to anyone who will listen."

Verdict

Top results for top-banana

Effectiveness * * * * *

Suppliers Ability to meet needs  * * * * *

Value for money * * * *

Appropriateness to any business? * * * *

Entertainment valuen * * * *

Would you recommend the company? yes

(key * = Disappointing    * * * * * = excellent)

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