One of the Top 5 high street food retailers in the UK with around 600 stores nationwide, and around 75,000 staff.
For the HR department, having such a huge population presents a significant and ongoing challenge which was being met through a major three-year HR strategy plan. At the time of Poisson Rouge’s involvement, the plan had just completed its second year.
Like any HR initiative, the client’s strategy ultimately depended on the quality of the relationship between individuals and in particular, the relationship between HR managers and the company’s Divisional Executives. Responsible for the overall performance of around 15 to 18 stores, each Divisional Executive needed to have a wide range of HR support, but rarely considered it his or her top priority. The challenge for HR managers was therefore to provide day-to-day input while at the same time driving through the company’s wider HR strategy.
Poisson Rouge was asked to bring these issues alive in a way that allowed the HR team to debate their role within the store structure and explore their relationship with their line managers.
As part of an umbrella themed event called simply “A Sense of clientname”, a two-day workshop event, Poisson Rouge devised and delivered a forum theatre session centred around a fictional meeting between a fictitious Darren Egerman, a Divisional Executive, and Holly Manger - his HR Manager.
In forum theatre, professional actors play a scene that highlights a particular set of issues and the audience responds with comments on each character’s behaviour. The actors then play the scene again, modifying their behaviour accordingly. Through a series of iterations, the desired outcome is achieved and the audience can see clearly how individual attitudes and actions can affect the delivery of wider business goals.
In the case of Darren and Holly, the core topic covered was how to manage relationships between people with different agendas and priorities. Using comedy and caricature, the presentation not only dramatised the different viewpoints of the HR executive and her line manager but also quickly put the audience at ease and created the right atmosphere for debating what can often be difficult subjects. By the end of the session, there was a far clearer understanding of the issues involved and, better still, a strong sense of personal achievement in having contributed directly to a successful resolution.