My friend Tom loves sports.

He loves playing for the joy, the camaraderie, the exercise. He loves also loves watching it, albeit for different reasons. His view is that with sport, unlike other forms of entertainment, the outcome hasn’t been decided in advance. With a TV series, a film, a play, the ending is already sorted before you get there, but with a sporting fixture, no-one actually knows what is going to happen.

You can have hopes, expectations, even beliefs, but as a viewer, none of these things will have an effect on the outcome, no matter how superstitious one might be.

And so it was yesterday. A new chapter was written with the first Working Lunch following the end of the C-Care programme. There was a desire for these sessions to continue and thus Real Ideas have agreed to host. The usual array of late apologies and unexpected guests provided some of the pre-match jitters that have accompanied these events in the past, but by 12.15 a group had assembled to speak about their real experiences.

What was interesting, or should I say unpredictable (a bit like sports), was what would the conversation entail. The only thing I did know, was that this has always been the case with these sessions. New voices, familiar voices, new ideas shared, challenges confronted, alliances made and forged.

As this is an open forum, not exclusively for HR professionals, guests from various walks of life joined in. Mick Henry (JCP) has attended before and this week was earned the moniker “Mick Missile” for his reputation of being asked by his higher ups to get involved in any conversation and fire off. Another regular attendee Amy Fox, (BrightFox), also was present to share her thoughts on practical steps that can be taken to make the experience of being in work more equitable. Fairness seems like the right idea, but we all have a different definition of fair.

Two new faces to the group were people on a slightly different journey. Claire Honey (Project  Management Services) is a former colleague, now using her skills supporting organisations in project managing and delivery, meaning her intersections with the people of those organisations offered a version of the truth that maybe not that which is shared with the employer. And Jules Marshall (Paper Rocket Spoon), another former colleague with an independent streak, was making waves in the play sector by encouraging adults and their children to do it together.

More than previous sessions, this group really opened up and shared very personal tales. The details are not for sharing here, but some of the key phrases that peppered our session are worth repeating:

  • To punch holes in people’s bul***it.
  • Just because someone is silent, does not mean they agree.
  • Don’t try to solve a problem before you know what the problem is.
  • If you make a goal a target, the result becomes the focus, rather than the process.
  • Trust the process.
  • Emotional mange.

Who could have seen any of that coming? Emotional Mange?

It may appear glib to include these soundbites without any context, but importantly, it shows the conversation is not just about practical examples of problems. Deeper, more broad thinking has a place and helps to build alliances and friendships. I cannot say for sure that Tom would have engaged in the conversation, but I am in no doubt that had he been a fly on the wall, he would have been riveted.   

There will be another session next month – again adjusted due to the excess of Bank Holidays we are suffering blessed with – on Tuesday, May 16th from midday at Devonport Market Hall. Here is the link if you want to join in – As a bonus, if you book to join us, you are welcome to stay and work with us for the day – full access.

What we have learned from these conversations over the past year, is that people want a space to talk to each other. It could be described as “networking with a purpose”, but for now, we will just call them Working Lunches. Progressing the People is the movement which has enabled this format to come into being and  you can expect to see more of these available to join soon.