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High Performance Culture within the Transportation team

Transportation By Valeria Riso, Director of Transportation – 31 May 2023

Silhouette of a group on a mountain with arms raised pumping the air


Valeria Riso smiling towards the camera in a red top against a blurred background of the London office

Valeria Riso

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Last year, our Managing Partner Carole O'Neil announced our new business strategy, of which high performance culture is one of four key pillars. High performance culture is something we see as fundamental to the success of our business: building up a cohesive workplace where we can continue to work together, share our experience and expertise and deliver to the highest standard is a top priority.

Given that I have been leading the Cundall Transportation team for over two years, and we have had many new hires meanwhile, I decided to arrange for all members of the team to get together in Newcastle to focus on the above theme.

Me and other team members from the London office are booked on a 7am train. My laptop is out in no time, and I use the time on the train to review a Transport Assessment report and join an internal briefing meeting on a new hotel project in Tajikistan. Next to me, others are chatting or on their laptops.

We arrive in our Newcastle office, and after a quick greeting from other members of the team from Newcastle and Manchester, our first workshop starts. This is led by Louise from Learning and Development, who starts with an icebreaker activity, standing in line in our birth month order, which we almost got right. The workshop then continues by asking the team what we should: stop doing, start doing, and continue doing. The original plan included for this discussion to happen without ‘the boss’ in the room, but the team confirms they feel comfortable in freely sharing their views (which, I must admit, I was extremely pleased to hear), so I remain in the room. Everyone contributed to the discussion, irrespective of their seniority, giving constructive feedback, and most importantly acknowledging and celebrating our successes.

We then move onto our second workshop led by Natalie from Marketing, where the team identifies and discusses the transportation areas and services, we want to focus on, including tangible actions describing what success would look like.

We ended our working day with an Escape Room. Although we didn’t quite manage to escape from ‘the monsters’ in time, we did work together to solve various clues and I personally had lots of fun.

It’s past 5pm, we leave the office, and after checking-in at the hotel, we all go for dinner. While eating a delicious Indian meal, we learn about each other's families, recent and upcoming weddings, new babies, our homes, our hobbies, and more.

For the second day I had asked everyone to think about how each member could further contribute to the team and share their thoughts via presentations; the team decides to present in reverse birth month order. Once again, everyone was really involved in the discussion, bringing lots of great ideas on how we can improve our projects delivery and grow our portfolio of clients and services. After a Q&A session, we start putting names and timescales against agreed actions.

It’s time to get our train back, and after we say goodbye to our local team members and those taking a different train home, we are on our way. On our train journey back, we mention memories from the last two days, look at pictures we took together and set up rules for our forthcoming photography competition (the theme is Public Transport). We also jokingly volunteer one of us to pick up horse riding as it’s the only mode of transport we are not currently using out of those included in a WCHAR (walking, cycling and horse-riding assessment and review) and we keep chatting all the way to London.

Over the two days we learned more about each other, made more memories together, created a vision for the team, agreed a plan and set up actions, and I felt we were connected and engaged more than ever before. This is what I call a cohesive and high performing team, and I knew then that our days away had been a success!