What’s the difference between doing a job, and loving it? And how can an organisation become a place where its people are doing the latter?

In this episode of the Chorus Voices Podcast, hosts Dan Minchin and Louise Forster ask these tough questions of themselves, their organisation, and – most importantly – their team members.

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How do you Make a Great Place to Work? – [0:00]

“How to make a great workplace?” That’s the big question isn’t it?

For Louise, “It always comes back to relationships, conversations, and having the time to sit down and listen.”
– Louise Forster

And Dan believes: “What we try to do is think about all people, whether they’re an employee, a volunteer or a customer. We think – if you can you look after the people who are looking after the people, you’ll go some way towards being a successful organisation.”
– Dan Minchin

But the real answers to this question must come from the people who make the organisation go around. Louise starts the line of enquiry with – who else? – the head of People and Culture at Chorus.

People & Culture at Chorus – [2:20]

Lorelle Trotter is the manager of People and Culture at Chorus. She’s been with the company for nearly two years, and has made giant strides towards creating an ideal workplace in that time.

“People are in this sector because they want to make a difference,” Lorelle says.

Committing to this idea – and using it to shape the teams at Chorus – are a big part of how she has helped make Chorus a great place to work. Louise asks Lorelle how she has put these values into action:

How Lorelle Builds Teams that Love What They Do:

  • Dismantle the typical hierarchy (leader is above others in pyramid format)
  • Treat everyone as equals
  • Value your support workers
  • Encourage the workforce and the leaders to think in the same way

“We’re all in this together.”
– Lorelle Trotter

Lorelle (Left) and Louise (Right) talking people and culture.

Teamwork at Chorus – [12:30]

How people work together plays a massive role in determining how much they like their jobs, and how much meaning they can find for themselves and others.

Louise asks Lorelle about her ideas on teamwork and how to foster collaboration:

How Lorelle Encourages Teamwork:

  • Enable leaders to support employees to solve their issues collaboratively
  • Help leaders get to know their organisation and how it works
  • Give leaders support and tools to help them create and communicate with teams
  • Have those difficult conversations – don’t avoid them!
  • Leverage technology to communicate easily
  • Ask your employees “what do you need?”

The Importance of Recruitment – [16:30]

The service industry has a turnover rate of around 25%. As we all know, this presents a challenge in creating a cohesive workplace.

To tackle this obstacle Lorelle focuses on the recruitment process. Bring the right people into an organisation for the right reasons and they’ll stay.

Lorelle’s Take on Recruitment:

  • Hire based on values and cultural fit – not just capabilities
  • Use interview techniques that find out why applicants want the job
  • Use videos to show applicants exactly what the job is – and what it means
  • Be open and honest with applicants when values don’t align

An organisation works well when people take a job because they want to fulfill a greater purpose. And it creates more joy and value  for customers and employees, too.

What do Chorus People Love About Their Workplace? – [26:00]

In true Chorus style, Louise doesn’t stop at asking the manager of People and Culture what’s going on under the hood. She goes to the source – the employees and volunteers who make Chorus run.

What Employees Love about Chorus:

  • Helping people find meaning in their lives
  • Doing things in new and different ways
  • Making a positive impact on local communities
  • Working in a place full of deeply caring people
  • Every day is different

The Dark Side of Doing Great Work – [29:00]

Creating an awesome workplace isn’t all rainbows and gumdrops! It involves a lot of effort, a lot of honesty, and often a lot of difficult conversations. Dan and Louise explore how they dig deep and tackle the tougher bits of the task.

Dan & Louise on Tough Conversations

  • It’s about conversations… and not every conversation is nice or easy.
  • Be honest, and say the things people may not want to hear
  • Be present for all conversations, and listen to what every team member needs

When things get difficult, Louise asks herself “What do we want for Chorus? What are we all trying to achieve? And how can we all get there together?”

Those guiding lights lead her in the right direction every time.

When Dan is experiencing difficulty, he often asks himself “What are we missing?”

“It’s not always possible to sit in front of a whiteboard and come up with a plan that works. You need to be able to see it from the perspective of individuals.”
– Dan Minchin

What Don’t Chorus Employees Love? – [33:20]

In the spirit of honesty, Dan and Louise went on to ask Chorus people what they don’t love so much about their workplace. Here are some of the most prevalent answers:

  • Communicating across the distance between various sites
  • Trying to find information scattered amongst three domains (from the three companies that merged to create Chorus)
  • Building a team relationship when your team works in three different locations

What do Dan and Louise Love about Chorus? – [33:20]

Coming full circle back to our hosts, and ending on a happy note, we take a look at what our hosts Dan and Louise love about Chorus.

What Louise Loves About Chorus:

  • No two days are alike
  • The daily challenge
  • Working with a wide variety of different people

What Dan Loves About Chorus:

  • The focus on people
  • The potential to make Perth and WA a better place to live
  • Approaching community service in a fresh and dynamic way
  • A strong belief in what Chorus is trying to do: Enable people to live the life they choose

Thanks for Listening!

Thanks for tuning into this episode of the Chorus Voices Podcast.  If you find yourself inspired by these stories, head to our website and learn more about what we’re doing.

If you enjoyed this episode, please pop into iTunes and leave us a review! Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.

Mentioned in This Episode

  • Brightwater Group

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