Case Study
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Mott Macdonald is a global engineering, management and development consultancy focused on guiding clients through many of the planet’s most intricate challenges. Their network of experts, active in 150 countries, finds opportunities in complexity, turning obstacles into elegant, sustainable solutions. By looking at problems from a fresh angle, they aim to add value at every stage. And this applies to their team also.

terptree was approached by the HR department of Mott Macdonald to help with a situation with a deaf team member and the impact this was having on the colleagues of that team member.

Jenny Winton, Senior HR Advisor, Mott Macdonald, explains the difficult situation that led to them seeking support from terptree.

“We had a challenging situation where a deaf member of our team was building barriers between himself and his colleagues”. She went on to explain that he hadn’t come to terms with his deafness and it made him frustrated, angry and badly behaved towards the wider team. His general communication with them was tough, as was theirs with him.

Jenny recalls: “The situation led me to contact terptree – as a last resort really, as discussions had already been started about how we may need to consider his future employment in our business”.

When asked how she chose terptree, she explained that when they applied for funding to help with the needs of this deaf member of the team they were told of terptree and that they came highly recommended.

What terptree were able to do was use their experience to analyse the situation then find a solution. And Jenny explained that “Their solution is one we would never have thought of ourselves”.

What terptree did was to use awareness and education techniques. This enabled the team to understand how their colleague was feeling and what was leading him to behave as he did. Through a one day workshop they were able to show them how hard it can be for deaf people to manage in the workplace. This allowed them to both understand and empathise more fully.

Jenny recalls “And what it meant for the deaf member of staff was to be understood finally. He felt they could now empathise with his frustrations because previously he hadn’t been able to find a way to do this”.

“But what they also did, which is what we would never have thought to do, was to talk to him about what he wanted to happen at the workshop; how he wanted to be treated by his colleagues; what he wanted to share with them via terptree”. This way, the deaf staff member was able to ‘have his say’ without the pressure of being in the room.

Jenny went on to explain that “After the training sessions with the wider team, Victoria fed back to the deaf team member what was said, and what had happened. This not only ensured he felt included, but by doing so he got an understanding of what they had been told, and importantly how they felt both before the sessions and after they had been told more about what it’s like to be deaf”.

But what Jenny found was the most significant was the change in the deaf member of staff. She says: “The most incredible result was that terptree had helped transform a guy who hated life, his work, his colleagues; into someone who was now suggesting he spent his lunch breaks teaching his colleagues BSL. It was a truly amazing transformation! It had such an impact on him because he now felt included and cared about”.

She went on to say explain that by addressing the issues he had with his communication and by educating the wider team as to why he was behaving in the way he did, the result was greater understanding and empathy. After the terptree sessions, people were noticing an immediate change in this member of staff. Interestingly, most of the change was because his colleagues had changed their attitude towards him. But also, he too was a changed person.

“I only wish I could have Victoria’s support in all my HR functions! I’m so confident in the level of service they deliver I recommend terptree to everyone”.

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