Focus on employees’ head-tools set to reap rewards

“…we expect our business to change significantly over the next five years…and we intend to become the best in the industry”

BridgePoint Group’s Annual Conference was held in the Hunter Valley in early February 2020. Managing Director Neil Parker reports:

One of the things that can hold businesses back is a lack of clarity. Everybody’s happy to sit on the bus if they know where the bus is going. But if you ask them to get on the bus and they don’t know what the destination is, if they don’t know what’s in it for them, if they’re not sure what’s expected of them, then there’s a lot of serious lack of context and a lack of clarity. The 2020 conference was to make sure there’s no lack of context and no lack of clarity within the team.

The purpose of providing that clarity was to communicate the same message to everybody at the same time. Topline – we outlined the goals for the next 36 months, revealing a step-change required in our efficiencies and a need to improve the level of service we provide our current and future clients. It was a good chance to get it all on the same page, articulate where we’re at, remind them where we’re going and tell them what’s in it for them.

A further key area covered at the conference was staff development. Mostly on staff members being the best that they can be and to give them tools to be able to get themselves into a good headspace to do their best work.

Our team’s toolbox is their heads. That’s the asset that they bring to work every day. Being humans, obviously, they’re subject to all the vagaries of moods and emotions… a bad night’s sleep or an argument with the other half before they come to work. All those things affect the headspace they’re in. So we were trying to give them tools to deal with that.

Mindfulness was one of the tools we delved into. Trying to get them to understand the techniques you can employ to ensure that you remain present in the current moment. Compartmentalising was a technique that Steve Waugh (Australian Cricket Captain 1998 – 2004) was famous for. He talked about compartmentalising when batting. The ability to apply utmost focus for a short period of time, so he could be focused in that singular moment.  If he missed a ball and was stewing about that, he put that to one side as the bowler was running for the next ball. We had Joannie Lemay from In Bloom Project attend the conference and talk to the team about the techniques to put non-work issues to one side and focused on the next thing.

Combined with mindfulness, we embraced meditation as a technique to improve mental health. All of this within the context of; we expect our business to change significantly over the next five years because the industry will change around us and we intend to become the best in the industry. This may be stressful for people that don’t view change as an opportunity. We’re challenging our people to see that there’s an opportunity, but give them tools to deal with it.

Interestingly, peoples recollection of the company values was pretty poor. The only time that anybody really heard the values is at the interview stage. Over time they are not sure how it all pulls together. The conference helped reinforce those to the whole group. A recurring theme from the feedback was around how we wanted to set out our team-goals in the future and to make sure that we’re actually living up to the values that we espouse.

You obviously see people in a different light when they’re in a more social environment. You get some insights and see people behaving probably more in tune with who they really are as opposed to the professional persona they walk through the front door with each morning. It’s a good opportunity for them to get insights into management as well. We tend to find that an off-site environment is conducive to teaching people “soft skills” as opposed to the technical stuff. Soft skill learning that comes from a relaxed chat with peers, a manager or in a more structured way with experts experienced in soft skill development.

As we continue to grow, and there’s going to be a range of new people that join the organisation, they will need to understand the things that we focused on at this conference. It was a good opportunity to start working on and continue working on those softer skills.