How singing put Brandwatch on the path to a stronger, more confident workforce.
2 x 10 week choir courses
A Company performance
Growth of a new internal community
For an experienced choir leader, the choir journey is similar in every group, but never the same. Each group has its own character and dynamic and this always keeps my job interesting.
At Brandwatch I met a new set of people who didn’t know each other and who were at different seniority levels across the large company. Straightaway I saw talent, enthusiasm in bucket loads and dare I say lots of bravado! We talked about what Brandwatch employees wanted from their choir and, being highfliers, there was a lot of fantasizing about being the best choir in town. They also wanted to perform – to give it their all, which is ideal, but ultimately I had to create a choir that everyone would enjoy.
My challenge as Choir Director was to create a level playing field for everyone involved – from managers to junior researchers! The group’s challenge was to move beyond their vulnerability.
In many respects choir mirrors life. But it also distills the most important components needed to make life work well. There is commitment and discipline required to be part of a performance choir – it takes work, and practice to be good; there are no instant results, but the outcome is hugely satisfying.
Being part of a big company, the choir members came from different departments and didn’t have existing friendships. But they had seen each other at meetings, presenting, doing great stuff! To suddenly be part of a group, singing, they naturally felt vulnerable and frightened. But over time they formed a community, a team – they got to know each other, they pulled together to sing well, they met up to rehearse in their lunch breaks, they exchanged details, they moaned about their choir director together, they smiled, they laughed, they even cried!
As we progressed, there were simultaneously so many tiny and huge steps taken, some imperceptible, but some which remain etched in my mind.
The moment a shy woman sang on her own, blushing and red, but returning the next week somehow more resolved, bolder and stronger.
The moment, a choir member, literally found his voice and started to sing tunefully and beautifully.
The moment grief and loss was shared and how singing helped that one person start to heal.
The moment a lady re-discovered her voice.
The choir members who helped me emotionally & physically every week, giving me strength and confidence to lead the group.
Managers, directors & CEO’s always want to know how the figures translate – what’s the payback for these ‘feely’ projects and how quickly does it happen? You can always demonstrate improved health, retention and productivity; there is plenty of science and data to back this up. The reality is, there are no quick fixes or payback, the real value lies in the journey – the conversations people have, the personal triumphs and achievements, the quiet confidence gained in taking risks, the recovery from emotional & physical pain, the friendships and support that grow from the mini community known as choir. The personal sense of achievement that begins to shine throughout an employees working day.
All these factors bring strength to organisations, enhancing the well-being of employees, shaping a stronger workforce and improving a company’s reputation. It has been the ultimate pleasure working with such a talented and positive group and I look forward to building my next workplace choir.
A company choir may not be an immediately obvious choice of well-being activity, but the results speak for themselves.