Change Management Training with the Hallé Orchestra

We take learning and development very seriously. This year, we were proud to receive the Princess Royal Training Award in recognition of our in-house training programme for industrial placement students. In addition, our software engineers attend and run development sessions every Friday afternoon, and members of all teams have the opportunity to attend conferences and courses in their field. We also invite outside organisations to deliver training on topics such as mental wellbeing and effective communication. Earlier this month, we had a training session with a difference – a workshop on change management led by a choir conductor from the Hallé Orchestra. We learnt about change through the medium of song!

Our trainer Stuart began the session with a warm up, getting us to walk around the room greeting each other. Aware that singing might be outside the comfort zones of most of us Webbies, he put us at ease by explaining that it didn’t matter if we sang the wrong words or felt self-conscious, it just mattered that we gave it a go. Stuart led us in some basic chanting with accompanying hand movements, and it didn’t take long for us to be ‘cha cha-ing’ in (nearly) perfect time.

Halle 1

Once we had mastered the basics, we moved on to something more melodic. Stuart introduced us to a verse of the folk song ‘Ah, Poor Bird’, which we ran through together until we were familiar with the words. Just as we were hitting our stride, Stuart divided us into groups and had us sing in a round. At first the result wasn’t entirely harmonious! However, with Stuart’s direction and a little persistence, we soon had a passable stanza of music. From there we moved on to a three-part version of ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’, working together in our groups to keep to time and (roughly!) in tune.

Towards the end of the workshop, Stuart split us into groups of two or three to reflect on how we’d done. We discussed our initial expectations, which for many had been a more traditional presentation-style workshop, and how we’d felt when tasked with becoming an amateur choir for the afternoon. Most of us had felt unsure that we’d be able to sing, and intimidated by the prospect of trying something so different in front of our colleagues. We then talked about how we’d managed to overcome these challenges with the help of Stuart’s leadership, and through our own willingness to get stuck in and work together. Overall, we felt positive that we’d achieved something in such a short space of time, and agreed that we had been able to overcome our initial concerns by just having a go and recognising that we were all in it together.

Halle 3

To round off the session, Stuart had us sit in a circle to attempt a call-and-response sea shanty called ‘Haul Away, Joe’, which had some pretty complicated clapping to go with it. Increasing the speed each time, our singing soon descended into a frenzied cacophony of sound. Finishing the afternoon this way was a nice reminder that even if you don’t hit the mark, you can at least have fun with your colleagues trying.

Change in the workplace comes in many different forms, and it’s unlikely that us Webbies will be forming a musical ensemble any time soon. Yet, as an exercise, singing was a great way to get us outside our comfort zones and show us that new things aren’t always as daunting as they first seem. The session demonstrated that the way we approach change – and the people we approach it with – can make all the difference in how we experience and manage it. Thank you to Stuart from the Hallé for making the session so engaging – if we ever make a Webbie charity single, we’ll be sure to give you credit!