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Bullying & Harassment at Work: DSTL

Just a bit of harmless banter? Conscious or unconscious bias?

Our Client’s Problem

DSTL (Defence Science & Technology Laboratories) is an executive agency of the Ministry of Defence. It ensures that innovative science and technology contribute to the defence and security of the UK.

Our longstanding relationship with DSTL meant that we understood a common challenge within the organisation, enabling technical experts and specialists to become successful leaders and managers. After a series of staff surveys and reports from HR it became apparent that there was an unhealthy culture of bullying and harassment within the business.

The organisation’ objectives were to raise awareness of this culture. To help staff understand what constituted bullying & harassment and what can be done to manage these unfortunate incidents.

Our Bespoke Solution

  • Working with DSTL HR and a dedicated project sponsor we developed a series of scenarios based on first-hand employee feedback
  • Three scenarios were scripted in the style of ‘fly-on-the-wall’ interviews, similar to those seen on TV documentaries
  • The filmed scenarios were then used on a series of facilitated roadshow events
  • Facilitated workshops for managers were commissioned to help leaders manage similar behaviour within their teams

Our Learning-by-doing approach

Our scenario design needed to be honest and true to the culture at DSTL. Accessing confidential reports of actual bullying and harassment enabled us to create fictional characters that experienced very similar scenarios. This meant we were true to the feedback yet protected those brave enough to share their experience.

We wanted the 3 films to resonate with the audience. One dealt with repeated incidents of micro-aggression, another dealt with unfair pressure and demands placed on a member of staff who had a sick relative to care for. Lastly we explored the lack of Senior Management support to a colleague who was experiencing aggressive responses from peers.

We wanted to show the audience that there were long-term implications of this type of behaviour, both the short and long-term impact on the business and its reputation.

Experiential activities

Real-play (individual session):
  • Building high-quality rapport and trust
  • Listening and empathy
  • Holding assertive conversations
  • Delivering high-quality feedback
  • Managing conflict
  • Challenging B&H Conversations
Peer feedback, reflection and 1-2-1 coaching

The learning value add

Greater awareness of personal impact and brand, handling sensitive conversations around bullying and harassment, communication strengths, challenging conversations, influencing behaviours and stakeholder engagement.

The Results

  • A 5% drop in reported bullying and harassment cases
  • A new management culture established in response to B&H cases
  • Participant feedback: 100% would recommend the programme to colleagues
  • Personal action plans agreed and individuals supported by Senior Managers
  • Measurable increase in employee satisfaction survey scores
  • Employee Engagement improvement

Client Feedback

We commissioned Corporate Drama to help with the production of an in-house anti-bullying and harassment video imitative. Mark Huggins understood the brief immediately, he explored approaches and design finishes with us, suggesting ideas we’d not thought of. He and the Corporate Drama team added significant value with their creative ideas, which resulted in a powerful, and emotionally engaging end product. The scripting and translation have given us a tool, which will have enduring use and is highly bespoke.

Joann Robertson, Programme Sponsor, Science Gateway. DSTL

Here at Corporate Drama we develop authentic leaders, managers and teams. Our programmes re-energise, re-focus and re-engage your people. We dramatically transform workplace training leaving a measurable, visible impact throughout your entire organisation.

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