By Chris Hunt, Estate Planning Lead – Funeralcare

Last year, the area I worked in received a fairly low score from our ‘Talkback about your Leader’ survey. I’m a representative on the Colleague Voice panel, and I’m passionate about feedback; I wanted to understand the team’s core frustrations and how we could work together to overcome them.

We get on really well with our colleagues so it concerned us to think that many of them weren’t happy at work and we wanted to address that. This is why Talkback is so important – it helps us understand how our colleagues feel about working here at Co-op, it tells us how effective our leadership is and it gives us the insight we need to make effective change.

After a thorough read of the report, things started to become clear. Communication across the team wasn’t great – things like sharing and cascading information with them and listening to colleagues’ problems. I met with my fellow Estate Planning Leads and our Regional Operations Manager to look at how we could work together to make changes for the better. When we asked our teams about the results they said they often raised concerns and put forward ideas and suggestions, but felt like they went into a black hole and were never talked about again.

We came up with a simple solution to tackle this – we set up cluster meetings. These are face to face meetings which happen every four weeks and everyone is encourage to talk, share and feedback about what we do and how we feel. The relevant Funeral Family colleagues are invited each time, from funeral arrangers, funeral directors, embalmers, crew to care centre colleagues. It’s great we have such a have a diverse range of colleagues in different roles because we’ve been getting a complete view on what’s on everyone’s minds. Everyone has a slot and it’s a safe space where we can be open and honest. We rotate where we hold them as well, which means everyone can share the travel and the impact on funeral homes is minimised.

The meetings have also helped share best practice across our patch. We’ve talked about a number of things which work well in one funeral home and might work really well in another. Problems are also being raised a lot earlier too, and our leaders are getting early sight of them so they can work out the best ways to tackle them before they get escalated.

What’s really helped me and many of my colleagues is how the meetings have helped lock-down who’s accountable for getting things done. Any actions brought up in the meeting are shared and owned by who’s attended and they see them through to the end.

The meetings have been up and running now for five months, and we’ve already scheduled sessions in for the rest of the year. It’s starting to feel like there’s a routine to them and the feedback’s been great so far. They’re going really, really well and we’re starting to see effective change happening across the board in our area.

If you’re a manager and have been disappointed with your Talkback feedback, I’d encourage you to take the time to really understand and embrace your results, talk to your team and get on with building an action plan to make changes for the better.


Join the conversation! 4 Comments

  1. Thank you Stuart. I have been really impressed how this idea from the Earlsfield area has taken off, how everyone has worked on this, and now to see the changes it has made has been great for the whole team.

  2. Fab article.
    Feedback for me is massively important, to take on board the frustrations/concerns of my team have always been at the forefront of what I do. Being new to the Co-op family makes me feel proud because of what we do and how we do it. Listening can be so underrated, but the achievements that can be had from doing it are huge.

  3. I’m interested to understand how these meetings take place now that we are not allowed to close funeral homes. We have con calls but not had a team meeting for ages.

    • Hi Alison,
      The meetings are really important, and we try and arrange them at different funeral homes to minimize disruption to business,
      We have where applicable, full time colleagues come in earlier, ( maybe )
      For Job share colleagues we would normally arrange the meeting around handover times.
      It is possible with careful planning and as Chris mentioned in his article, really productive for all concerned
      Normal attendance would be Funeral Arrangers, EPL, FD’s and SFD

Comments are closed.


Co-op leaders, Colleague support, Funeralcare and Legal Services, Great place to work, Succeed together


, ,