Network Rail, Morgan Sindall and TSO spent an afternoon together on the pitches of the London Wasps training ground in Acton on Thursday 23rd March. Here is the story of this unique moment.
Morgan Sindall is a leading UK construction and infrastructure company and TSO, a specialist in construction, renewal and maintenance of railway tracks, modernization and electrification of overhead catenary’s system. They have been chosen by Network Rail, the owner and infrastructure manager of most of the rail network in England, Scotland and Wales, to work together on a flagship project in King’s Cross. To them, talented people who get on well, communicate and understand each other are the key to success. To ensure a fruitful partnership and achieve their objectives, Andrew Jellis, Managing Director of Rail at Morgan Sindall and Sébastien Lustro, Rail Electrification Director at TSO in the UK contacted Serge Betsen to arrange a seminar for their teams.
Through his consultancy, Serge Betsen offers out-of-the-box solutions to enhance the team spirit within a company thanks to his experience as a French rugby union player and as a businessman. He has plenty of best practices to share! Morgan Sindall and TSO were keen to create strong links between their employees as they are currently collaborating and the managers of the companies want the teams to know each other well in order to be as efficient as possible. In this situation, they identified a Serge Betsen Consulting seminar as a solution to gather and engage their employees.
After welcoming the teams and sharing a quick lunch, Serge delivered a one hour speech in the changing rooms. Proud of their customised jerseys (a harlequin’s jersey mixing the colours of Network Rail, Morgan Sindall and TSO), the group was coached as a Barbarian team where teammates are not used to playing together.
Nothing to worry about? We are not sure, as being coached by the ‘Grim Reaper’, one of the top flankers of the professional era of rugby union is not something that happens to you every day. Serge first reminded the values of a successful partnership and then shared his feelings moving from a French club to a British one. The habits in the two countries are of course very different, even if only a small sea separates them. With the French squad, Serge and his teammates arrived one day in advance for a match as they wanted everything to be planned in advance. They spent hours together chatting, sharing tips for the match, joking and playing cards. It was not the same spirit at the London Wasps: players arrived one hour and a half in advance only. They dealt with their own business in the morning spending time with their family for example, but when they arrived in the stadium, they focused on the match and only spoke about it. As you can imagine, Serge experienced a challenging cultural gap and had to adapt to get used to a new style. By discovering Serge’s story, the attendees of the seminar could identify themselves as they are currently facing a huge change with the recent partnership. Serge gave advice on how to create a team spirit in a short space of time between people from very different teams coming from two companies with strong cultures.
The participants moved to the rugby pitches to sing God Save the Queen. Serge led a warm-up and organized games to illustrate his speech. There was team building and touch rugby exercises aiming at gathering employees on a different atmosphere than in the office. Without having to use usual skills, they were asked to play the roles of rugby professionals and to give it a try. Motivation was the key. And it worked!
Last but not least, everybody shared a couple of beers at the clubhouse. No doubt this seminar took place in the UK! And the French seemed to get easily used to it.