The first round of the table always leaves me watchful for the little niggles between colleagues, the hierarchy being established, power being displayed and measured. It’s the kind of place where everyone quickly states how long they have been there, which evolution of the organisation they joined at – and that’s before the demarcation between functions and operations.

The morning session went pretty well. A good level of interest for the programme and some obviously motivated delegates. This afternoon it’s the second cohort to go through the introduction. We go round the table and the numbers start coming in – my heart sinks a little – 16 years, 19 years, 25 years and then the winner.

Worked here for 39 years.

He’s survived through various acquisitions, mergers, reorganisations and “multiple management training programmes”.

And we are introducing a batch of training designed to ensure consistency across all management grades. Not the leadership stuff but the policy and procedure. This guy has been here longer than most of the procedures let alone his colleagues! I wonder what he will say when answering the question “What do you want to get out of this course?”

I can’t remember his exact words but to paraphrase “I really want to learn how other colleagues solve problems and I’d like to share some of my knowledge or experience if it might be useful”. Which sets the tone for the rest of the session. It encourages older and younger colleagues to swap examples, to share insights and ask each other for help.

The cohorts are not fixed, this collection of people will not necessarily all be in the same session for next months module. Different dynamics will emerge and play out but I hope that everyone will remember this moment. How rare to meet someone of such experience who is so utterly without agenda, who has no need for ego or position to define him in this room.

I can’t wait to work with him again.



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