When our CEO Adam Froman unveiled his three-year vision for Delvinia at the end of 2015, he set out three guiding principles for our team to follow as we progress through the next phase of our journey as a company: effective communications, the power of collective leadership and the importance of maintaining a belief in success.

To help drive that message home – and to assist the members of our team who stepped into new management roles at the beginning of this year – Andrea Reck, our Director of Experience Design, is creating and leading a series of workshops and teambuilding initiatives for our staff.

Last week, she kicked off the series with a Just Listen-themed workshop that was designed to support Delvinia’s culture of authenticity and trust by creating an environment where everyone could freely communicate with one another.

I sat down with Andrea to talk about the topic, the format, and her goals for the workshop, which paired staff members into teams of two and tasked them with talking to one another about a series of topics during a number of timed exercises.

What are you hoping to achieve through these workshops?

The reason we’re doing this is to affect positive change. We want our staff to feel that the workshop – and their work environment in general – is a safe space where they can speak honestly and openly, and where they will listen and be self-aware. As a management team, we keep talking about creating a culture of authenticity and trust and we want the entire team to experience what that really means.

What was the focus of the first workshop?

It was all about communication. We want to start the communication between team members and ensure the management team is leading by example. As a management team we are working to be authentic, to trust one another and to be there for each other, but we also need to do this for our staff to support them and champion the communication across the entire company. The goal was to create an open, trusting and non-judgmental environment during the workshop – and beyond that.

The intent behind this particular workshop was to encourage open communication and discussion, and to highlight the importance of active listening. The exercise was designed to encourage everyone to speak openly and honestly and to listen with empathy.

Why did you structure the workshop the way you did?

In every pairing, each individual had an opportunity to speak, and to listen during the exercises, which were timed. We wanted to encourage everyone to trust their instincts when they were responding to questions and to communicate their answers as succinctly as possible.

During the listening portion of the exercise, the goal for the participants was to listen without judgment and to listen without interjecting. After listening to their partner speak about a topic for two minutes, the listener then had one minute to relay back what they had heard. Then each team had another minute to have a brief conversation about the process. It’s very simple, but very powerful.

How are you gauging the success of the workshops?

Our ultimate goal is to inspire a culture that allows everyone on our staff to be themselves.  At the conclusion of each session, we followed up with a quick employee survey to get a sense of what everyone learned and whether they felt they could talk openly during the workshop. The majority of our staff felt they could truly be themselves while participating, so I think the workshops were effective.

What’s coming up for the next series of workshops?

The workshops I’m creating build on a series of exercises that our EVP Raj Manocha has been conducting during his weekly Monday morning meetings with the AskingCanadians team. Those sessions have been engaging the entire team in group exercises focused on communication, trust, accountability and authenticity. So we’ll be tackling one of those subjects next.