There are two guaranteed things in life. We are born and we die, everything in between is a bonus!
Death is a random subject for a Success Coach, you see I don’t just work with individuals, I also work with businesses and their teams… so where does death come into this?
More often than not we shy away from the subject of death.
Conversations and thoughts of death can be a painful, emotive a scary subject ……yet for some, death is their business and I had the pleasure of learning what it is like to work in the funeral industry, alongside delivering an awesome Litabix team-building experience.
Why team building?
Whatever the business, every team needs to work cohesively to generate successful outcomes. A funeral directors is no different.
Delivering the ultimate in customer care, attention to detail, paperwork, the legalities, making sure everything is just perfect, are just a few of the important tasks required when dealing with the passing of a human.
County Funerals, is an Independent Family Funeral Service, their ethos is to deliver the ultimate service for their customers and deliver the utmost care and attention to the deceased in their care. Whatever type of funeral, the celebration of life is as unique as the person themselves, and this all starts with their team.
Arriving at their quaint little shop on a bright sunny morning, I must admit, I felt a mixture of emotions…..it is a funeral director’s after all!!
Like many, my experience of death has been one of a painfully emotional time, losing loved ones and friends. Trying to deal with grief and helping those left behind to move forward. I had never considered the actual journey when someone dies and what happens.
My brief was to pull the team together, to encourage communication, delegation, time, and record keeping. To encourage teamwork, and to help the team recognise that each individual has a part to play in the bigger picture and each part compliments the other.
This understanding of working together will be enabling the business to successfully grow and maintain its high standards, (of course making sure we are having a little bit of fun on the way).
The prior conversations with County Funerals Director gave me insight into certain processes and procedures allowing me to design bespoke training activities for the team…I had yet to meet!
For all of this teamwork is crucial, so I set to work creating a plan.
Day one….the eye opener
As I entered the light and airy shop space, I was greeted with smiles and a hot mug of tea, always a winner in my eyes… Jeff is renowned for his tea-making abilities (alongside conducting amazing funerals) you can check out his tea-making video on youtube.
The beautiful company teal branding has a soothing effect when you arrive, their space is welcoming no dark and dingy, oppressive black here!
Following introductions to the team, I was submerged into a day’s training in all things funerals. I became one of the team.
I learned about the most important paper trail that begins when a person dies, how records and details need to be maintained and keep accurately through every stage of the final journey (check the tag became a standing joke of my training day).
The equipment used when collecting the deceased, how to make a coffin, how to carry a coffin. What the different decorations on a coffin mean (do you know?).
Standing in the mortuary, my skin reacting to the cold temperature I stood opposite those sadly departed, fascinated by my brain computing this information, it wasn’t scary, it was amazing. I listened as I heard how to prepare a deceased body, what the different chemicals and equipment did, how to keep the skin supple, what dressing the deceased and make-up does to help those of us left behind and so much more.
My brain was buzzing with information, my eyes had been truly opened to the amount of work involved in the funeral industry.
Death had taken on a whole new meaning to me, and the respect shown and the processes completed were astounding…I’d never considered this before.
Day Two – Litabix Team Building Magic
Day two kicked off with me taking the lead, in an amazing funeral space (you would have never known) the team met for breakfast and we began with a few simple ice breaker exercises, general introductions of the team, and of course tea made by Jeff.
Sometimes team building can be scary, taking staff out of their comfort zones and encouraging them to engage in a whole new way. I know this, and this is all part of my plan, the activities are purposely designed to help people relax, laugh and give their best version of themselves.
Team Building Gold – Colour Profiling for Communication Excellence
Following the tea and icebreakers, I introduced the team to Colour Profiling – Colour profiling is a simplified form of personality testing based on the DISC model of human behaviour, based on the work of psychologist William Moulton Marston in the 1920’s.
This is a popular, straightforward, standardized and relatively easy way to assess behavioural styles and preferences.
When working with a team, it gives a simple insight into everyone’s personality and an understanding of how we each differ, plus how we can flex our communication style to suit the person we are working with to get the desired results.
This fun session highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the team, focusing on people’s behaviour types classed into four types Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. You can literally see the light bulb moments happen – team building gold!
The team explored their own profiles, then how they could work alongside their complete opposites. Learning each different style’s traits and personality behaviours.
Understanding how people would behave in their normal relaxed state and how things can change when they are stressed out.
Just a simple understanding of your colleague’s personality traits can make a huge difference to your results and working environment. Plus alleviate conflict and stress.
An energetic morning disappeared quickly with much laughter plus the all-knowing nodding of agreement when people recognised their traits and those of others around them.
The yellow teams energetic party planning will stick in my mind forever! (ask me about it if you want the details!)
Afternoon of marbles, drainpipes and magic sticks
The afternoon was jammed packed with team-building activities, including my magic stick (encourages much frustration and shouting), the drainpipe body delivery, Zoom a communication exercise, listening skills ending with a general discussion about the business, the team, and how to move forward in the future.
The greatest answers always come from within the team, offering a secure, fun space, delivering thoughts ideas, and commitments to move forward.
The chance to connect with colleagues on a different level builds trust and relationships that perhaps weren’t there before.
Life Lessons from the training room
To join this team for a number of days was a privilege. To learn that they take their roles seriously and even when no one is watching they deliver with the utmost respect.
To attend a funeral of someone I didn’t know was a new experience for me. All emotion removed, I got to watch the lovely Nikki Godden in action, as a funeral arranger and civil celebrant, she creates, writes and delivers funeral services.
To watch from the sidelines was a positive learning experience, watching the dynamics of the team in action, like a perfectly oiled engine.
I also got to see a cremation happen and learn the process, from when the coffin disappears in the crematorium to the collection of the ashes. The crematorium technician was happy to talk me through the process and I watched from start to finish amazed again at the detail and effort by all involved.
The warm welcome is extended by County Funerals to all visitors, the families of the deceased are encouraged to visit the shop and spend time with their loved ones (there is normally cake and tea available), nothing is too much to ask and the team go above and beyond to make the loss of a loved one a comfortable journey. Loss is painful enough and making sure the individual wishes are met is a true value for County Funerals.
I have delivered multiple team-building days and sessions over the years and love interaction and learning, this had to be one of my favourites.
For me taking a deep dive into the funeral industry was a brand new learning experience, one that I think we don’t give enough credit for.
We often shy away from death and when I talk of visiting and training at a funeral home, people look at me with fear and shock…..for me to understand the care, attention to detail and absolute respect that is taken in County Funerals behind the scenes is breath taking – I know their reviews and feedback are testament to this. The fact that the management also care about their staff and want to enhance their personal and professional skills is the icing on the cake.
Despite me being asked to help and guide the team, I think the team also guided me to an extensive increase in brain matter and understanding of that horrible thing we call death, and I know if my loved ones needed a funeral director, I know who I would call!
Colita Dainton The Success Coach at Litabix.com. Helping people think differently about their problems. If you are interested in working with me, use the contact form or book a free 30-minute discovery call,it would be great to hear from you.