Cathy Landman, Chief Legal Officer and Senior Vice President, Human Resources
Sometimes, you need to have a good laugh to make a serious point. That’s why YA’s leadership rolled out our newly refreshed values in the longest running satirical comedy theater in the United States, and then conducted a repeat performance for our Canadian associates. Because we’re so serious about our culture and values, we wanted to make sure that the message about them resonated fully with our employees. And there’s no better way to do that than through the power of laughter.
How we did it
We recently conducted values-based training that was developed in collaboration with John Sweeney, leader at the Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. John helped us craft a day of serious work that took place in an environment that was lighthearted, safe and supportive. They were certainly laughter-filled sessions, but the messages beneath the chuckles and guffaws was delivered in ways that stretched our YA associates out of their comfort zones, allowed them to bond as a group and encouraged self-awareness about attitudes and behaviors that might have been holding them back from fully living our values.
In it Together
As the energy and commitment levels built throughout the day, we strengthened our interpersonal communication, collaboration, agility and problem-solving skills. The format of the day was a perfect fit for our personality as a company, and it helped to build a sense of mutual trust, setting the tone for our own operating norms and rules of working together.
We conducted a post-event survey and received some great responses. Here are some examples:
Provided insights, engagement, self-awareness, collaboration, teamwork and it was fun!
Great way to learn how to think differently to reach goals and objectives.
Colleagues told us they learned:
How to relax and listen to understand. Stay in the moment and not think too much. Trust your brain.
Energy is motivation, and how you speak, act, move will be a reflection of how your team will speak, act and move.
As a group working together, we accomplish more and can grow the company to benefit all employees.
We need to create responses to problems quickly. Having these vales in play will provide a great guideline.
DO try this at home
If you’d like to try this in your organization, I’d suggest you make sure that top leadership is not only on board with the concept, but present at the event. At both our U.S. and Canada sessions, President and CEO Chris Behrens teed up the values at the start of the day, speaking about the process the leadership team had gone through to agree to those values, and highlighting what each of them meant to him personally. Then he participated fully in all exercises and activities.
Another important step was to set the stage at the beginning of the day, ensuring people knew it would be a safe environment in which we’d be working to build trust together. That said, it’s okay if people are a bit nervous at the beginning – it will quickly pass!
Follow up, frequently. As the year unfolds, we’ll continue to exercise to make sure we live our values.
Finally, it’s important to understand the value of humor in the workplace. Don’t shy away from using it in business context, because we all could use more reasons to laugh and lighten up as we’re doing the serious work of helping our clients achieve their marketing goals.
If you’d like to learn more about how YA can help you acquire new customers, retain the ones you have, and build lifelong loyalty, then I’d love to begin a conversation with you. Contact me to learn more.