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Drama helps trainers at Weight Watchers

Weight Watchers has used drama-based training to help its Regional Trainers coach and support new Leaders, responsible for running the Weight Watchers Meetings.

Drama-based training specialist Steps ran an interactive session, as part of a two-day training course, in which the trainers practised their coaching skills in a series of one-to-one role plays.

"Our Leaders are the front line of our organisation, so if our business is to be successful, the Leaders have to provide a great service," said Lynn Sivell, Senior Company Trainer at Weight Watchers. "We designed a course to help our Regional Trainers provide support and encouragement to new Leaders. An important area of the course was coaching. We wanted to add a practical dimension to this, so we approached Steps."

Steps Drama has worked closely with Weight Watchers since 1998. The company has previously delivered a coaching skills programme for Area Service Managers; a programme on interviewing skills, to help with the recruitment of potential candidates for Leaders, and a workshop on handling difficult situations and assertiveness, for senior head office managers. It has also produced a video of customer service scenarios to help Weight Watchers provide more consistent training for Clerks, who help the Leaders run their Meetings.

For the Regional Trainers course, Steps Drama developed a three-hour practical session on coaching, featuring a series of one-to-one role plays in which an actor-facilitator from Steps played a new Leader whom the delegates took turns to coach. Each delegate was then given feedback on their coaching style, emphasising their strengths as well as areas where they could improve.

"Steps delivered a very enjoyable session, which provided a great deal of learning for the Regional Trainers," said Lynn. "The beauty of Steps is that they create an environment where people feel safe to experiment. Their role plays are always 100 per cent realistic and memorable and the delegates benefited enormously from the specific and helpful feedback."

Lynn believes that this training has strategic implications for Weight Watchers. "If our business is to carry on growing, we need to continue to recruit inspiring, motivated and well organised Leaders," she said. "It is also essential that our Regional Trainers help the new Leaders to provide the right level of service. Steps brought alive the issue of coaching and helped us to deliver a successful training course that we believe will achieve these objectives."

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