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More than just dancing


In her monthly column, Gemma Middleton looks at how the English National Ballet is embracing L&D.

Business training and continual professional development is important for any organisation, no matter what industry, and a prime example of this is English National Ballet; and interestingly, it’s not just the dancers that get training.

The dancing metaphors do not end there, as Philip Maddock, English National Ballet’s HR Director points out: “Flexibility is key for any learning and development that we implement as the development needs to fit around our dancing tours as these are our bread and butter.
"We strongly believe in offering all of our employees the opportunity to further develop their skills, be it artistically or in a business capacity as our organisation’s success is attributed to our team. This approach seems to work as development opportunities are not only embraced but frequently requested.”
A development area that English National Ballet focused on in 2009 was internal communication and cooperation, as Maddock explains: “As you can imagine two of the key organisational skills needed to ensure a tour is successful are departmental cooperation and communication. Every department needs to make sure that they not only complete their jobs to the very best of their ability but also realise how their departments affects others throughout the whole ballet company.
"Whilst every department was working well individually, we recognised that there was a very real and urgent development need in ensuring the team improved their understanding of how each department is interrelated as well as building on communication skills and practices.”
Righttrack Consultancy won the project to design and deliver a highly interactive and participant programme which removed participants from their day-to-day roles in order to give them an opportunity to experience and explore a different situation in order to fully appreciate the importance of internal customer service, cooperation and organisational understanding.
Kasmin Cooney, Righttrack’s managing director and project manager for English National Ballet’s development programme explained: “We wanted to design a fun, yet practical event that would challenge every participant, whilst highlighting the power that communication and cooperation plays in organisational success.
Many people learn by doing, which is why we incorporated a scenario into the development programme, as they provide great, ‘real’ experiences that really help to hammer home the learning, as the participants have first-hand experience of their natural approach in a difficult and trying situation.”
“The group reacted well to the scenario and the reflection activity was incredibly powerful and well received, which led to many of our employees leaving with positive suggestions and ideas to put in place to improve internal communications and cooperation, which is exactly what we wanted the development to do," he continued.
A strong team spirit and sense of organisational responsibility to employees is a lot like a fairy tale at the moment; many organisations are focused on cutting costs and so a positive approach to people development is a nice, refreshing change.

Gemma Middleton is a regular columnist for and the marketing coordinator at Righttrack Consultancy. Read her other features: Where are all the good role models, Bigger isn't always better, Generation Y hits the wall, Social media for learning?,Can discrimination ever be positive? and The British Resolve: Leading us to greater things.


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