To that end, Nigel Harris and his partner Laurence Pechadre gave a taste of what Face the Music can offer during a recent event at HUB Ottawa.
“We had some customers interested and we felt that it was time rather than just talking about it and showing a video, we thought we should have something they could actually experience,” Mr. Harris said.
Face the Music offers a team-building exercise in which participants are encouraged to open up about their workplace issues by writing them down in the form of a blues song. Not only do those who take part write their own songs, they end up performing on stage by the end of the session.
“Even though they came in kind of tired and freaked out with what was happening in their corporate world, we still got them to lighten up, laugh and start to rock and roll,” Mr. Harris said. “You could just see the shift in their energy, physically. It was quite remarkable.
“Sometimes when you name the elephant in the room, people can just get off it and start to work together. That’s so important now, and I do think that is a big part of retaining employees – if they just feel good at work.”
Face the Music originated in upper New York State in 1994, when co-founder Paul Kwiecinski decided to merge his love of music with his consulting work in change management.
Typically, the group comes in, unexpected, at the end of a staff retreat or training session. It will spend anywhere from an hour to a full day with clients.
“They’ve had huge success with Fortune 500 companies,” Mr. Harris said. “These companies have to operate at 120 per cent because competition is fierce and they’re having great success and a lot of referrals.”
The Face the Music website lists Bank of America, Pfizer, Allstate, Ernst & Young, Target, Panasonic, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, GE and Bristol-Myers Squibb among its American clients.
In early 2014, Mr. Harris was talking with a friend about his business, musicalwellness.com, which sees him play two or three gigs a day at various seniors homes and centres for the disabled. He told his friend how the music empowered his audience.
“He said, ‘Oh my God, you’ve got to talk to Paul,’” recalled Mr. Harris.
A phone call later, Mr. Harris was on board with Face the Music, working on commission to bring the program to Canada.
“It takes me full circle because there I was in high-tech, in not very high-performance teams – people with issues, people with turf wars, and you know how people get when they’re thrown together – not necessarily working well together,” he said.
Mr. Harris said in the past, tech companies would just throw more money at their employees to try to hold on to them. But he said that is no longer enough in today’s ultra-competitive economy.
“(Money) doesn’t necessarily keep people,” he said. “If your day is miserable and you’re stressed out, you’re not going to stay.”
Ms. Pechadre, a leadership coach, joined the group as a senior consultant in January.
“We have three proposals out there locally, which is good because it is important to be known in Ottawa now,” she said, adding there is some interest internationally as well.
Mr. Harris said businesses in a number of sectors, including high-tech, real estate and pharmaceuticals, are looking at the program, as well as the federal government. HUB Ottawa is interested in becoming a client as well, he added.
Ms. Pechadre said some multinational companies that have branch offices here are among those that have expressed interest. Mr. Harris said they only really need one to sign on to trigger a domino effect.
“I get the sense here that if one big company jumps on board and sees what it can do for them, the rest will follow suit,” he said.
Organizations: Bank of America, Pfizer, Panasonic Wells Fargo Microsoft GEBristol-Myers Squibb
Geographic location: Ottawa, New York State, Canada