My top tips: I think the first one was to name the niggles.

Quite often at the beginning of trying to make some change we were trying to solve the problems ourselves, or we were worrying about the things that people were discussing, complaining about – and then we actually had a day that was facilitated initially by a Happy trainer where we just said: “OK, what are the top 5 problems in the organisation, and let’s get them out on the table”, which is scary because you’re asking people to complain [but you’re actually saying] “let’s break into groups and come up with solutions.”

And actually we now do that every year because what happens is it means that half those problems turn out to be not problems at all. They were problems for one person in the organisation and as soon as you discuss it you realise it’s very simple to solve, or it means everyone owns the issue and starts trying to solve it, so that’s been a real learning [experience].

We have a development group where we just do a quick health check and that allows us to work out if there’s things we should be picking up on, or things we should do differently, and also another really helpful thing is in project teams or in other meetings, we just go round and ask people to rate 1 to 10 how they’re feeling – either how they’re feeling about the project or how they’re feeling more generally. And that allows us to get all kinds of risks out on the table, it gets a sense of which teams might not be feeling so great; they don’t have to say why, they can just say: “I’m a 4 at the moment” but it’s just another way, with all these roots, to start discussions and to make it a place where people can say: “I’m not feeling so great” or “I’m worried”, whatever it may be.

Philippa Ward has had a career driven by her fascination with people and their stories. Starting with a history degree, via journalism, she is now responsible for internal excellence on People, Projects and Profile at Global Action Plan. GAP equips and inspires people to take practical environmental actions now to preserve the planet for tomorrow. Philippa leads on internal talent development and people strategy, and runs programme with the Ignite Foundation, British Gas and Tesco to train and support unemployed young people. You can follow GAP and find out more about what they do on Twitter @globalactplan.

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