In a world where Zoom and Teams are now a part of life, there’s often an impulse to make every conversation that isn’t an email a video call meeting, with a schedule and agenda. But as useful as these are, Bridget reflects on the value of the humble phone call and why working through a problem could be just a conversation away…
Although Music Mark doesn’t have an office any more, I think I spend more time with my team than I did when we were based in Holyrood Street in South East London!
The day we closed the London office just before ‘lockdown 1’ we discussed how we would keep in touch and discovered Zoom. From the first day we all worked from home we had a daily meeting – first thing on Monday to Thursday and then at the end of the day on Fridays – to check in together and share what we were doing and how we were getting on in this ‘brave new world’ of home working. Almost two years on, we continue to meet most days, although we now have a more structured plan to our team meetings and share the leadership of them across the team.
However, as we went into the next full lockdown in January 2021 we tried something else. Many of you will have heard about our Walk and Talks, set up to get us away from our computers and perhaps crucially in the winter months, out into the light during the day. These Walk and Talks involved pairing up to chat about anything and everything, no agenda but a chance to catch up. The conversations have been far ranging from baking to holiday plans to how we support our membership to consider climate change (just three of the topics I discussed with Matthew last week).
These one-to-ones help us to bond as a staff team, but they can also be a real catalyst for solving problems, for talking through ideas and for moving projects on, and because we mix up the pairings the conversations can help get various perspectives on a topic which can be so helpful.
When I started planning my first Music Mark Annual Conference in 2017 I had a call from Marion Friend. She told me that she would be happy to provide coaching sessions during the conference as she had done in previous years. I wasn’t quite sure how this might work, but work it does, and she has kindly continued to provide these sessions at our Annual Conferences ever since. Over the years we have been joined by more consultants available to meet with delegates, and at our 2021 conference in Brighton, Carmel Cardona, Sam Stimpson and Gary Griffiths all provided one-to-one sessions as well as Marion and colleagues from our Advice Partner Bates Wells. We don’t know what these conversations are about, but we do know they are wide-ranging and appear to be extremely useful to those who attend.
But the conference happens just once a year and the opportunities to chat with these people is limited, so we thought why not set up some sessions away from the conference?
As part of our Arts Council Funded Workforce Development Programme, we are now able to offer one-to-one conversations with Marion, Carmel, Sam and Gary. You can find details of each of these experts here and how to book a session. You might want to talk about your ED&I Plans, work through a problem or talk through your career aspirations, the topic is up to you, but we hope that these sessions will be really valuable to you personally and to the wider team/the organisation you work for.
You will also soon be able to sign up to be part of our ongoing mentoring programme too. Sometimes it’s not an expert you need but just someone who can guide you through a conversation which helps you see a clear way forward. Our mentoring programme, with mentors who are generally current, future or ex heads of music services, has proved to be really beneficial to those who have engaged with it to date, so we are expanding our pool of mentors and will be putting out a call for ‘mentees’ soon.
However, one final thought – as well as perhaps seeking advice and support externally through these Music Mark opportunities, can I recommend looking at your diary for this week and seeing if you have time to book an hour with a colleague? Simply check you have their mobile number, plug in your headphones, put on some warm clothes, and if you can, get out in the fresh air and talk with them! You’ll be surprised how productive an hour away from your computer can be and perhaps you too will work out why your sourdough isn’t rising (I think it’s a change in the type of salt we’re using)!