REBOOTR'S 'NEUROPLAY' COMMUNICATION PROGRAMSQuick-acting • experiential • instantly usable • solutions-focused • long-term results, cumulative LET'S TALK
Your people get on better with customers by first helping your teams get on better with each other.
EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP INTELLIGENCE: the soft power of any organisation
CREATE A LISTENING WORKPLACE
THEY'RE MORE LIKELY TO BE ENGAGED AND PRODUCTIVE WHEN THEY FEEL HEARD, CARED FOR AND RESPECTED
MORE SYNCRONISATION BETWEEN STAFF AND 'TUNING INTO EACH OTHER'
AS TRUST AND OPENNESS GROWS
STAFF PERFORM BETTER WITH OTHERS
STAFF OPEN UP AND TRUST THEIR COLLEAGUES MORE
STAFF CALL ON EACH OTHER MORE
STAFF WORK MORE EASILY TOGETHER
STAFF BUILD UPON EACH OTHERS SUGGESTIONS MORE OFTEN
LESS SILO THINKING
LESS COMPLACENCY AND 'ISLAND' THINKING
LESS LIKELY TO ACCEPT MISTAKES AND LESS LIKELY TO BLAME
STAFF CONNECT BETTER WITH BUYERS
STAFF LISTEN BETTER TO THEIR CUSTOMERS
STAFF CONNECT MORE INTO WHAT CUSTOMERS VALUE
STAFF ARE LESS CENTRED ON THEMSELVES AND MORE IN THE MIND OF THE CUSTOMER
STAFF HAVE LESS CONFLICT AS THE CUSTOMER IS HEARD
CUSTOMERS ARE MORE LIKELY TO MAINTAIN LONG-TERM RELATIONS
Once your internal teams are operating at peak connection and communication, it becomes easier to connect to customers.
25th September 2020
“The COVID-19 pandemic has upended business models and traditional ways of working, leading to heavy demand for short courses on how to lead an organisation through tumultuous change.”
Magnus Gittins, director of executive education at AGSM, University of New South Wales, says courses on building up resilience are also highly sought after at a time when those qualities are crucial in the corporate setting.
The philosophies of pre-Covid leadership and management is out of step with the 2023 work environment.
These philosophies focus more on the individual and on operations and efficiency. This usually (not always) comes at the expense of human relationships.
Organisations that cannot manage psychosocial work environments and prioritize healthy interpersonal work relationships are at a disadvantage (such as more prone to reputational risks, decreased market share, and staff flight to other organisations, among others).
Many established consultancies deal with shaping the individual and getting the most out of the individual, while leaving out how they relate to and connect with others. Even with the best training, systems or tech, if people don’t care about this psychological shaping, it may be money down the drain.
Instead, focusing on authentically developing relationships from the ground up, teams become far more cohesive, people want to stay working at a place where they get all of their needs met, and it is much easier for staff to go ‘above and beyond’ for internal and external customers.
Rebootr proactively fills this gap and works with organisations to update their skills and training to reflect this post-Covid workplace.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF EMPLOYEE RELATIONSHIP INTELLIGENCE: ‘NEUROPLAY’ …
More authentic listening
Active listening exercises help you tune out your own thoughts and focus on what the other person is saying. This improves your information gathering and helps you build a better case. It also improves interpersonal communication, which is helpful when dealing with stressed-out colleagues.
“It’s very common when talking to someone to start tuning them out and planning what you’re going to say in response while they’re still speaking,” said John Windmueller, WIT@Work training manager. “The idea is that I can use that extra time to prepare… But that doesn’t always make for the best conversation.”
Maura Mazurowski (25/9/2019), ‘Lawyers find improv comedy skills help them think fast‘, Virginia Lawyers Weekly,
Better understand each other
Improv is all about being present with others, listening deeply to understand their perspectives, and contributing the conversation in a way that benefits both of you. These principles are essential for true leadership, which involves dropping your own agenda and focusing on others, truly listening to understand them, not just waiting for your turn to respond.
Improv challenges you to communicate better, teaching you to be actively present, listen attentively, support and respect others, and be flexible and adaptable. These skills are essential for any type of communication, but especially for building strong relationships and connecting with others on a deeper level.
Build care and trust more effortlessly
Improv competencies: active listening; stay curious; everything is an offer; respond in the moment.
To build successful relationships with all parties, trust is essential. Good trust with others develops at the same time that self-interest decreases, and listening gets finer. Trust also comes when actively supporting colleagues.
(Stakeholders being colleagues in your team or other teams, peers, management, client/customers).
A more trusting work environment is where people accept and build on what each other offers. That leads to a more supportive work environment, which leads to better overall performance across teams who use improv.
The link between work relationships based on trust, and profitability is through the profit motive of ‘play’. This motive, as well as improv concepts such as “yes, and…” drives sales performance.
Higher trust, such as between buyers and sellers, have a higher chance of leading to a purchase.
Overall, there are clear links between high performance, productivity and profitable organisations.
 “The use of … competencies gained through the improvisation workshop resulted in high performance and productivity after 1 month and 3 months at the participants’ work environments” Prof. Dr. Satya Subrahmanyam (?), ‘Corporate leadership: A privation for improvisation of techniques’, International Journal of Commerce and Management Research’
 “In follow up interviews one month after the study, participants continued to enjoy higher levels of productivity and performance.” Dr. Farnaz Tabaee (20/6/2013), ‘Improv Boosts Leadership Skills – Effects of Improvisation Techniques in Leadership Development’, Applied Improvisation Thinking’
 “Findings show that higher levels of salesperson improvisation are associated with increased sales performance.” Abena Yeboah Banina, Nathaniel Bosoa, Magnus Hultman, Anne L.Souchon, Paul Hughes, Ekaterina Nemkova, ‘Salesperson improvisation: Antecedents, performance outcomes, and boundary conditions’, Industrial Marketing Management’
 “Improvisers become businessmen, the relationship becomes the deal, and play becomes the profit motive.”
 “Here too, research appears to positively correlate improv with team cohesion and trust“;”The increased positive energy, trust, and mutual regard that stems from these activities can help participants feel validated, cared for, and understood – hallmarks to positive relationships“;”I will attest that improv trains individuals in interpersonal mindfulness, perspective taking, and active constructive responding skills. … it is these elements that lead to the previously cited outcomes of increased interpersonal connection, collaboration, trust, and effective communication.” Jordana Cole (1/8/2020), ‘I’ve Got Your Back: Utilizing Improv as a Tool to Enhance Workplace Relationships’, Scholarly Commons, Master of Applied Positive Psychology Capstone Projects, Penn Libraries, University of Pennsylvania’
 “We’ve known for a long time that human performance and business performance are correlated. … Heskett, Sasser Jr.. and Schlesinger published their now-famous book ‘The Service Profit Chain’ and established the causal link between profitability and customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, loyalty and productivity”
Be more present and connect to other easily
When you’re present in the moment, you listen more attentively and respond more effectively to what’s happening. This is essential for good client relations and public speaking.
People can sense when you’re present, and they respond in kind. When you’re not present, you’re likely to be rehearsing what you’re going to say or worrying about what could go wrong. This makes you seem disconnected and inauthentic, and it damages your relationships.
If your job is to connect with an audience, being present is essential. The more you’re in your head, the less you’re in theirs. And if you’re trying to convince them of something, you’re less effective when you’re not present.
Being present is also important for entrepreneurial thinking. When buyers want more than just legal advice, your work intersects with business, especially if your clients are startups. Being present helps you to better understand their needs and develop creative solutions.
Finally, being present can help you overcome a fear of public speaking. When you’re present, you’re more grounded and confident. You’re also better able to connect with your audience and deliver a more engaging and persuasive speech
Being present in the moment is essential for good client relations and public speaking. When you’re present, you can listen more effectively and respond to what’s happening in real time. This makes you more relaxed and authentic, which builds trust and rapport.
Through practicing with colleagues, this then becomes more of a default way of working.
See what's behind an issue more clearly
Applied improvisation emerged from the desire to cultivate these qualities and to see what lies beneath an issue by improving active and authentic listening, accepting what has been offered, and building on it.
Improvisers demonstrate highly desirable behaviours, such as collaborating effectively, generating ideas spontaneously, remaining flexible, taking risks, accepting failure, motivating others, and solving problems. Even the originator of modern improvisation, Viola Spolin, her original work was a tool to foster communication and collaboration between immigrant children who did not necessarily share a common language.
This fostering allows emotion to be taken out and transparency and honesty to drive the way towards solutions.
… WHICH LEADS TO RESULTS ACROSS THE ORGANISATION
Build rapport more easily
Establish positive rapport, cultivate healthy relationships, and promote constructive dynamics as the norm for your work teams.
Can deal with a 'no' better
Eliminate faux-nos such as “yes, but” or “well, but”. Know when to use ‘no’ and when ‘yes, and’ is appropriate, and feel more solid when stating a ‘no’.
Deal with fewer conflicts
Improv competencies: make your partner look good; find your solution
When people without the skills to cope with worst-case situations are exposed to them, they lack the resilience to manage it. This leads to worrysome mental health issues, and easily resort to conflict escalation.
Improv helps people resolve their conflict (and set up internal systems to need conflict less), put out fires, and adapt to change. As the work world changes, problem solvers who are comfortable with change are more needed than ever.
Improv helps team members see each other’s perspectives and find solutions together. In a supportive work environment, conflicts can be resolved more easily using a “yes, and…” or “no” framework, when appropriate. Improv can help teams pre-empt conflicts and nip team bickering in the bud.
See all sides quicker and easier
.Improv competencies: everything is an offer, make your partner look good; find your solution
Improv allows people to experience both sides of a situation or problem space, building empathy and helping them to understand the concepts more deeply. When people affected by a problem space come together to collaborate and share their diverse perspectives in a structured, facilitated session, this transparency, which is essential for the effectiveness of applied improvisation, leads to solutions. Activities can be introduced to refine this process, resulting in the highest level of solutions to the problems in minutes.
Think on your feet easier
In customer service, particularly with uncooperative customers, you need to think on your feet and adapt to their changing strategies. The key to this is to be open to new ideas and possibilities, embracing the improv concept ‘everything is an offer’.
For wider problem-solving (customers or not), you often need to come up with creative solutions. Thinking on your feet combined with “yes, and” makes ideation and problem-solving much quicker.
Navigate and adapt to change and uncertainty easier
Applied improvisation helps your staff adapt to change, which is essential for growth in our VUCA world. Applied improv activities focus on accepting change and preparing your workforce for real-world challenges.
When a team uses improv to work together, they incorporate at least one of the following:
- personal permission to access creativity and imagination.
- everything is an offer.
- listening, accepting, and building in the moment.
- overcoming approval/disapproval syndrome.
- good relationships with “yes, and…” and “no”, and avoiding “yes, but…”
- “bring a brick, not a cathedral”.
- be prepared for the unexpected, and adapt accordingly.
- supporting each other and making each other look good.
- leading and following.
- healthy relationship with mistakes and failure.
- building trust with each other.
- avoiding blocking each other.
- follow the fear.
- comfortably raising the stakes.
- focus on people, not objects.
- working in the ‘Flow State’.
The following summaries are based off:
Charles J Limb, Allen R Braun (27/2/2008), ‘Neural substrates of spontaneous musical performance: An fMRI study of jazz improvisation’, PLOS one, 3(2):1
“Limb and Braun discovered that during the improvised riffs, the jazz musicians medial prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with language and creativity significantly increased in activity, whereas their dorsal lateral prefrontal cortex, the conscious control part where you judge and correct your behavior became dormant. Fascinated by these results, limb has gone on to carry out similar studies with freestyle rappers, and most recently, with improvisational comedians with very similar results.”
Max Dickins, ‘Improvise!: Use the Secrets of Improv to Achieve Extraordinary Results at Work – Chapter 3: spontaneity’, Icon Books
“[Second City is] participating in a neurological study with [Dr. Charles Limb’ where he has improvisers underneath an fMRI machine.
And what he has discovered so far is, the brain is in a different state, when it’s improvising.
And in particular, the fear and shame parts of the brain go way down when you’re improvising …”
Rebootr Case Study
REBOOTR’S 6-WEEK PROGRAM WITH THE CASTLEREAGH BOUTIQUE HOTEL, SYDNEY
Increase in trust, accepting and building other people’s ideas, and solving issues with guests and members.
“Think of your favourite leader. Why do you remember them? Because of their skills or their qualities? It is the latter, of course. Nobody ever talks about Winston Churchill‘s time management skills or Mother Teresa‘s ability to run a good annual appraisal. We remember them for their qualities and this is where improvisation comes in. Within an hour or so, people have discovered bravery, grace, mental agility, creativity, passion, risk-taking, empathy, compassion etc……all of which helps them to become better people, at home and at work.”
– Phil Jesson, Commercial Director, The Academy for Chief Executives
“Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”
“‘yes, and’ is a great corporate way of life. It’s a great way of leading your teams, your business development projects or product development projects. That ‘yes, and’ is a extraordinarily powerful tool in the corporate world, not just as a way of getting things done, but kind of as a way of building some psychological safety. It’s working with your people in a way that’s really respectful. And that that leads to more productive teams.”
Kurt Nelson, Ph.D. and Tim Houlihan
Margaritis uses improv games and techniques to help companies find solutions to challenges they are facing. “In improv, bad ideas are just bridges to good ideas,” he said. “No ideas lead to nothing.”
Peter Margaritis, CPA, CGMA
“We’re doing it to help change behavior and get people to try things they otherwise wouldn’t do within the typical stiff, boring patterns of communication.”
Tom Yorton, CEO of Second City Works, Chicago
HOW ‘NEUROPLAY’ WORKS
In collaboration with management, we explore listening, being heard, accepting and building. This opens up even the most reluctant participants, fostering a closer team.
Within 40 minutes initially, we reveal how poor connections affect the health of the teams and organisation
Confidentially we ask into the values of the organisation, the relationships and their obstables and hinderances to achieving main objectives.
We present a path for the teams to strengthen their relationships and reach their objectives through the more effective activities
From one team to all, we play tailored activites that build trust, care and respect, reflecting on how to use them at work
Some people may rise to become Advocates for this new culture, helping teams reguarly practice to maintain ROI over the long-term
We regularly adapt the program to meet and exceed KPIs by observing changes in real-time and setting long-term goals beyond the program
A successful shift in culture can come from any number of people who are strong in care, respect and trust. This is because others will tend to mirror behavior of those around them.
‘NEUROPLAY’ OFFERINGS AND THEIR LEARNING OUTCOMES
Open their eyes
From 1 hour to a 2-day intensive
From those time-poor, wanting to recognise staff, for those wanting some fun or a way to bring back staff to the office
TALKS & SEMINARS
Move people ahead
From 1 to 3 hours
C-suite presentations, academic talks, or conferences focusing on one area (e.g. communication, conflict resolution etc.)
'NEUROPLAY' PROGRAM LITE
Start to reset the culture
3 sessions and 4 modules OR one half day
6+ per team
To install in teams good communication, care, trust, respect and rapport with others; improve customer service
'NEUROPLAY' PROGRAM FULL
Create long-term change
6+ per team
Initiating long-term change within/between teams; overcoming long-standing issues; cultivating a growth mindset.
REBOOTR’S POWERFUL ADD-ONS HELP DEEPEN ‘NEUROPLAY’ INTO THE MINDSET OF STAFF AND THE CULTURE
MISSION AND VALUES FACILITATION
When staff have a greater hand in the Values, Mission or Ethos of the organisation, they own it, and also may hold others to those values of mission. This is a process that can take from 2 to 4 sessions to get a full and frank catalogue of what matters to the staff and how they see the organisation they work in.
Through one-on-one interviews with key staff members from all levels of the business, we identify the root causes of unhealthy workplace relationships, including personal issues, external influences, and personality clashes. This audit allows us to tailor our the most effective activities to help improve these relationships.
TEAM RELATIONSHIP MAPS (for management)
Maps for intra-team, inter-team and management relations
We map out how each member of a team can collaborate and work the best with other team members. This is based on their most cherished concepts and activities from the NeuroPlay. This map gives management a clearer view of the strengths of the relationships within each team (and also between teams).
Members can work together, and what day would be able to achieve when they get the opportunity. Then the next step would be motivating them to connect with those closest to them, and create a problem solve.
We help organisations set up a paper or digital based complement system where each staff member compliments any other staff member or team on a weekly or fortnightly basis. This is one of the most powerful ways to bridge the gap between different staff members, give an insight into each staff members, view of others, and also show potential pathways to overcoming culture or relationship issues between staff members.
We facilitate the creation and running of groups of staff members around particular issues (e.g. customer service, rewards and recognition, internal relations) if there already isn’t a vehicle for staff to run through these areas and find solutions to problems. These groups can be held on a weekly or fortnightly basis, and are designed to move people away from a complaining mindset to a proactive solutions based mindset.
We facilitate staff wide meetings to focus on particular issues that need to be dealt with throughout the whole staff cohort. Similar to the interest groups, this format allows staff to air any complaints or grievances they may have, then to break into small groups to work out a way through these issues, and then share solutions with everyone. They will then be encouraged to take this back to their teams and Institute these within their teams. These brainstorming sessions can be one off meetings or held on a regular basis.
We introduce ways that people can rank or rate the behaviour of other team members of their own or other teams, and we compare these numbers to any metrics, measurements, or backend ratings, such as ones that hotels or clubs use. This is used as a staff motivator to see that their work affects the organisation, and gives Greta context as to why certain policies or procedures are in place.
LOVED TEAM OF THE WEEK
Different to “Employee of the Week”, this is an extension of the Compliments System. Rather than hoist one person up to be applauded, which may or may not inspire others and potentially create a competitive and critical reaction to the whole recognition system, this compliments the whole team.
This creates a sense of comradeship and a celebration by all, even if it was due to the work of one person.
We also expand our suite of add-ons as clients demand new solutions.
How does play help me at work?
Integrating play into the workplace offers numerous benefits, including enhanced learning, improved collaboration, and strengthened relationships among colleagues.
Unfortunately, many individuals have been conditioned to view play and creativity as unproductive or childish, leading them to suppress these qualities in their professional lives. Through soft skills training, it is possible to rekindle these traits through purposeful play.
For example, improvisation or group flow exercises offer a low-risk, enjoyable way for adults to explore new ideas and concepts with curiosity and openness within their mature perspective. Playful activities promote high levels of engagement and participation, while also leading to valuable insights and personal growth
How do soft skills work with my sector?
Effective listening is a critical skill that transcends industry and team type. When communication breakdowns occur, it can lead to compromised productivity and negatively impact the entire organization.
Improvisational exercises offer a powerful tool to improve interpersonal communication and collaboration. Central to the improv philosophy is the emphasis on people, rather than just the object or issue at hand. This approach can help individuals better understand how an issue affects others and cope with it more effectively.
While there is certainly value in maintaining a focus on the objects in certain industries, such as emergency services, engineering, math, and public utilities, improv exercises can help object-focused employees develop a greater appreciation for the human element of their work.
In industries that rely heavily on human interaction, such as retail, sales, customer service, and events, improv can be a central component of developing efficient, effective, and connection-based job performance.
Yes but our culture is fantastic and we get on well with each other
That’s fantastic! As well as being proud of what you have built, you have challenges:
- “we’re fine” can leave blind spots to negative influences. Once they become apparent, significant resources including mediation and HR, has to be used.
- there are one or two individuals who are not living the values of the business, and they can become difficult enough to cause HR hassles in the near future.
- unless you get 90-100% positive reviews in your Pulse Surveys, some behaviours that are unawares can be limiting the growth of the organisation.
We recommend doing the Team Relationship Maps to smoke out underlying influences that force your teams into average, defensive or survival mindsets.
What are the downsides of improv?
Improv is capable of being a conduit for changed behaviours, but it’s not a magic bullet for shifting some personalities.
Some team members may keep being unavailable, may keep being snarky about the process.
Many people are not used to freer thinking and are not comfortable with it.
Improv itself is solid, however, it doesn’t gel with everyone. Hopefully, your team has a majority of people who are open to improv. They will offset those uncomfortable.
Some workplaces are more challenging to bring in a different culture/improv.
- Those highly conservative and resistant to change.
- Those who do not prioritise employee wellbeing and mental health.
- Those who have bullies running the show.
- Those who don’t keep the practice going, and improv slips to the wayside.
Improv can work quite well in organisations like this. They just may not be the first to grab the opportunities.
Who facilitates the programs?
At the moment, I (Eric Vigo) do the facilitation. In 2022, given foreseeable rapid growth (!), I will be training improv and improv-friendly professionals (within HR, P&C, L&D, Ops, management) to also be facilitators in the mindset and path of rebootr.
What's different about your program from others?
First about others:
- most training is taught in a school-like manner (especially over one day), giving you information and hoping that input does the job, then leaves.
- there’s usually workbooks, powerpoint slides and things to fill out. Which all sounds like work
- it’s genearlly not individualised to the individual’s needs
OK, about us:
- we care how individuals develop during each session, and how this helps them at work afterwards.
- improv is experiential, meaning you learn while doing. Exercises bring you in immediately and you’re ‘practicising’.
- Whatever you are to ‘learn’ is done on the spot, and we go around and see what it was that you learnt. Then that helps us frame subsequent exercises.
- improv teaches through the use of emotion and play, which activates parts of the brain which usually lie dormant, and stores that new knowledge for future reference.
- improv develops new communal habits, which helps shift team interactivity towards the positive.
- you constantly know ‘what’s in it for you’, and if not, you get to ask until you know.
Will I be embarrassed?
VOLUNTARY AND SAFE LEARNING SPACE
Improv is about accepting creativity from each other without blocking. This is done within a psychologically safe framework.
Is there a money back guarantee?
Yes. We will refund the cost of the program on the first session, if you feel you’re not getting what we both agreed you could reach out of the program for your people.
What is the ROI of NeuroPlay?
I@W is not a passive program. We do not come in, dazzle your staff, then leave saying “job done!”.
I@W works the best when the team or organisation commits to implementing the concepts of improv after I@W is finished. Without being active, the ROI will be minimal.
Generally though, the ROI will be similar to any other leadership or team building ROI you may be measuring currently.
And what is the ROI of not doing I@W? If you kep things as they are, or chose another leadership, sales training or even physical team building activities (e.g. canoeing, physical extreme team building), what is the ROI you expect to get from them? And how long do you believe that ROI from those activities will last?
With a benchmark such as these, we can then look at the type of program that would equal or improve on the ROI from those other programs.
What if some of our staff don't want to participate?
Although not everyone wants to change, or even wants to be asked to do so, they tend to be in the minority. Many people see the chance to shape their teams or organizations for the better, and NeuroPlay makes it easier for them to do so. As much as the negative voices get the attention, we pay as much or more attention to the majority who are on board. They are the ones who give back more than they get, and they are the ones to cultivate.
What if my people are too busy?
I am sure some people have no time for any type of training. Maybe they are available for conventional training, and nothing too left-field.
The amount of time that improv takes to shift behaviour would be around 4.5-6 hours as a base, then more hours to sow the concepts in. Change does take time.
If you are in an environment that is too busy for anything, and you are making your way through, then why not keeping doing that. However, when that formula doesn’t work, is when you are forced to get away from busy to put a fire out.
A bit like racing to red lights. One day, a crash happens, all that time saved by racing is eliminated immediately and more.
In this post-Covid environment, busy is different. People are slower, people are wanting to be home. So we have a chance to change things for the better.
What is seen as being a successsful improv exercise?
Improv exercises can also be called games or scenes, which allow improv concepts to come through clearly.
From that, each exercise is helps develops one or two skills. And each exercise is played out, not to win or get to the end quickly, but to journey through the skills and what it takes to finish that exercise. And sometimes the exercise is a scene dealing with multiple exercises.
And each scene composes of small ‘victories’ which at any point in the scene, a skill helps increase your awareness of your own habits, reactions and behaviours, and that of others as well. This equips you for further exercises, which are practice for dealing with the real world in a new way.