June 24th, 2013 by Tom Espezel-Bentley
For the past few weeks I have been interning at Steps. Like most recent Graduates finding a fulfilling job in the current climate seems like an impossible task, something that you wistfully day dream about before trying to sell fridge magnets over the phone to an angry American man who only owns a truck and a beer cooler.
Coming to Steps was a breath of fresh air; it is the perfect mixture of business and creativity. The first thing I noticed upon arrival is the buzz that emanates from every single person in the office. It is contagious and provides the perfect working environment. After being here for almost a month nothing has changed. It is clear that everyone here loves their job and you get a genuine sense of teamwork and togetherness that is hard to find in most workplaces. In essence I think that this is what makes Steps so successful. Every single project that is undertaken has the sense of bespoke personalisation. It’s the difference between hastily buying a card from the off-licence on the morning of your mum’s birthday and a handmade poem written in glitter delivered by carrier pigeon. Every piece of work is given the same care and attention, almost as a matter of personal pride. You can be confident that anything released with the Steps name on will be of a high standard.
During my time here I have been lucky enough to experience a number of difference facets of the company, ranging from the marketing and media based side to the physical drama-based learning and experiential techniques that have become synonymous with Steps. In my first week I sat in on a number of rehearsals for upcoming partner assessment centre role-plays and experienced firsthand the thorough preparation and sheer bulk of research each actor has to go through before a performance. It is less ‘learning lines’ and more ‘learning a lifetime’ as in certain cases the actor has to play an experienced partner or CEO and interact with senior clients and longstanding members of well established organisations. This commitment to detail permeates every aspect of the company as I found out when I attended a few days of filming for a training video that Steps had been commissioned to make. As with the role play, each scene is researched in depth and meticulously planned out in order to connect with the specific target audience and in turn, prompt an active and engaged response from them.
As my time at Steps was drawing to a close I finally managed to get a peek at the companies Pièce de résistance: the forum theatre. Luckier still was the fact that none other than Mr Steps himself Robbie Swales was leading the session and showing me “how it’s meant to be done”. As a former superhero and spy (in his former career as an actor!), Robbie interacted with the delegates as both a character in the scene and a lead facilitator of the meeting, cajoling insights and responses from those in attendance. In many cases this was the first time that the delegates had experienced this intimate style of experiential learning and they really got involved, responding with interest and enthusiasm.
I was amazed at how fiendishly clever the concept of Steps drama-based learning is! By setting up a safe environment in which audience participation is encouraged, the actors were able to bring to life the delegates suggestions which allowed them to see just how those suggestions would play out in an everyday office setting. By experiencing the good and the bad advice being put into practice the delegates were learning ‘by doing’ in a judgement-free environment. They were able to critique their own and others’ responses by using the actors as intermediaries. Crucially that means that delegates come together to achieve a solution without criticising others’ suggestions.
In only a few days my time at Steps will be over and I will once again become another unemployed graduate with great hair and no idea what I’m doing! However I have learnt an important lesson from being in such a thriving environment; in your whole lifetime a third of it is spent working, so doesn’t it make sense that you should spend that time being happy? If you find yourself in a company where everyone enjoys their job then that’s’ nice. If you wake up every morning and don’t dread getting out of bed because you like what you do then that’s better. But if you find yourself in an environment where you are surrounded with wonderful people who all love what they do and inspire you to improve then I think you have found something truly special. I think you have found Steps.