An interview with Alison Esse, co-founder and Director of theStorytellers.

An interview with Alison Esse, co-founder and Director of theStorytellers.

An interview with Alison Esse, co-founder and Director of theStorytellers.

I have been chatting to Alison Esse, co-founder and Director of theStorytellers on how she inspires and instills hope in the ways she leads during this crisis.

Do you think that you have changed your style of leadership or management over the last few weeks, how?

The past few months has put the spotlight on the need to care about and support our people, some of whom live alone, and others unable to enjoy outdoor space of any kind. Inevitably people are worried about the future, so constant communication, regular virtual coffees (no work talk allowed), daily 15-minute stand-up team meetings, weekly updates, fun interventions such as quizzes to lighten any sense of anxiety and help people feel we’re there for them. It’s been critical that the lead team is speaking with one voice, so, as directors, we are meeting regularly to touch base, agree our forward employee communication, and make sure the team is as informed as they can be in a very fluid situation. The key thing is to ensure that they know that we care about how they’re feeling.

How do you inspire and motivate people right now?

We've created a special project to galvanise people to play their part in identifying new business opportunities so we can all pull together to create something positive and forward thinking. We have regular steering team meetings and updates to keep people motivated (everyone is involved). We’ve accelerated the launch of our own story which we’ve launched digitally, combining film with our own individual presentations and break-out groups. We’ve also introduced a further range of online sharing tools to make sure people are kept in the loop and can contribute. Our aim is to keep the team intact, and we communicate this constantly. Also, we haven’t stopped employee benefits to provide as much reassurance as we can.

What has been the best change you have made as a result of social distancing?

Collaboration and agile working. Checking in with people on a personal level far more often and far more widely. And I have got to grips with the digital world and all the tools and techniques this has to offer! We have also accelerated our digital offer which will become an integral part of our offer in the long term.

What will you never go back to doing and why?

Ignoring the birdsong and nature that is ever-present outside my window; taking my health for granted and not taking enough exercise. Also, moaning about the amount of work my garden needs. The fact that I have a garden at all makes me one of the lucky ones during this period of isolation. The sadness and loss that has come with this crisis has made me appreciate what I have, and I am grateful for it every day.

What will you do more of now life has changed?

Exercise. It’s become one of the things I look forward to most. Also keeping in touch with people more – no excuse now that we have all this digital technology to enable this to happen.