Last month, the OPEN Programme Manager, Gemma, reflected upon the challenges that OPEN Programme graduates encounter along their development journey. This month, Gemma takes things one step further, giving you insight into how the implemented changes made as a result of confronting challenges, positively impact workplace performance.


Receiving news about graduates making progress within their businesses just about tops it as one of the most rewarding things in my role as OPEN Programme Manager. Whether this involves them moving into a new role, taking on more responsibility or simply showing a noticeable change in attitude or approach, it really brings home just how significant supporting behavioural change throughout the Programme really is.

So, how does the OPEN Programme impact graduates’ performance at work?

Actively improving

It surprises and delights me to see teams quickly understand where they can make improvements following an experiential activity on the residential trips, and I’m even more encouraged when I see these improvements being implemented in the next activity, which may only be a couple of hours later. For example, poor planning leading to disagreements in the first activity of the day can be totally revolutionised by activity two, when meticulous planning leads to a team success. This isn’t to say all challenges are resolved in just a few minutes; of course transforming these skills into habits takes time and effort. But the real beauty of doing these activities is that graduates can experiment with different approaches in a ‘safe environment’. Experimenting in the workplace undoubtedly involves a level of risk or consequence and what the OPEN Programme offers is a ‘safe environment’ for trial, error and improvement. Graduates can draw on these concrete examples and think back to where a particular approach did or didn’t work. So the next time they are sat at their desks and find themselves about to dive head first in to a particular task, they can take a step back and recall the success they had on the OPEN Programme when they took time to plan.

Business Challenge Project

One integral part of the OPEN Programme is the Business Challenge Project, which requires graduates to complete a self-set project. Two conditions of the project are that it must address at least one highlighted development area and must deliver something positive back to their business. During the third residential module, following completion of their project, graduates present their results to a panel of external business representatives who critique the project and presentation style.

This presentation allows graduates to have tangible evidence of the impact they have made in their business, over and above meeting their KPIs and hitting targets. Hearing their success stories is highly rewarding for me and receiving positive feedback from their managers in tandem proves just how effective the OPEN Programme is. Individually managing a project from start to finish is a challenge for even the most experienced of people, and this part of the course really stretches the graduates as they are no longer in their ‘safe environment’. It is a chance for them to put everything they have learnt along their OPEN Programme journey thus far into practice. There are usually obstacles along the way and understanding how to overcome them, rather than see them as a barrier, is the most important lesson. The project arms them with more concrete examples to look back on when they inevitably come up against similar challenges in the future.

I hope I have given you some further insight into how the OPEN Programme influences graduates’ daily working life and constructively impacts the businesses they work for.

If you would to have an informal chat about how our OPEN Programme can help nurture, develop and accelerate your graduates’ performance, please do feel free to get in touch. I would be delighted to answer your questions and provide any further information.

Gemma Proniewicz