Tessa Cooper

Tessa Cooper

Director of People & Culture at FutureLearn. Believe that by changing the way companies operate, and how we interact at work, we will also change society for the better. I tweet here @tessacooper5

Achievements

Activity

  • Tessa Cooper made a comment

    We had a slight jump in turnover rate at the start of the year partly due to general trends in when people look for new jobs but also when we looked at exit interviews we also found a common theme was around career progression. As a small company this can sometimes be hard to provide to everyone but we are now starting to look at succession planning,...

  • I used to have this view of HR - that their judgement was clouded by need to follow process & policy at all costs. But as my career moved closer and closer towards the People function I started to see how important it is to be able to use guiding principles and adapt your judgement as needed based on the situation at hand. Unfortunately as a society we create...

  • I think in both scenarios the HR teams have been overly focussed on short term cost savings (e.g. recruiting someone quickly / saving money in short term though out sourcing) without considering the potential longer term costs of their actions and whether their decisions align to the company's values or desired culture. I think if they had a clearer...

  • Tessa Cooper made a comment

    Hi, I've just been promoted to Director of People & Culture here at FutureLearn from the role of Organisational Development lead. My role is to make sure our people & culture initiatives support and align to the overall company strategy - my background is actually in Product Management and I have extensive experience in how to build effective teams that work...

  • In my new team we are trialling using OKRs - objectives and key results. This enables us to be really clear about what change we expect to see from certain things, measure if it's been effective and importantly remind ourselves and others of why we are doing stuff.

    I also find that before any change takes place it's important to workshop the actual...

  • This is basically what I do as a job - I help people to work more effectively together. And I often find the most important part of that is making sure they can empathize with one another and be open with one another. A personal favourite exercise to do with a new team is to get them to collaboratively imagine they were the best or the worst team ever and...

  • I prototype all the time in my role because it's all about people and processes. I don't want to design new processes immediately because you can often get them wrong and I also think a lot of change in a rapidly growing organisation can often happen best with a change in mindset and behaviour rather than introducing endless processes. So instead I identify...

  • In my job as organisational development lead I'm always having to work with others to reframe problems. It's been a huge help coming from a product development background because I use a lot of the techniques we used to design and build our products to help people and teams to work more effectively and enjoyably together. I think of the people I support as...

  • Having said that I also think there are times when stepping away from a situation mentally or physically is unhelpful. I think there are times when resilience comes from being able to face challenges head on and grow from it. For instance a difficult conversation at work - you may actually become more resilient if you can find a way to navigate it effectively...

  • I'd definitely agree that anxiety and stress are contagious. I think anything that you can do to step away from a situation that is not healthy for you is part of ecological resilience too - stepping away from the world of smartphones for an hour a day like you suggest, taking 5 minutes breather from an intense/stressful conversation at work right up to the...

  • I like this list. I think a lot of these things such as healthy habits, building relationships and meditation are all things that once developed offer you a continuum in times of change/chaos - developing this consistency can be a huge support when you go through rough times.

    In terms of always learning I find self-reflection really helps here but it's...

  • Yes, but I don't think 'trusting your instinct' is simply a light bulb moment - I think it's about understanding that your brain has assessed a situation at a mile a minute based on past experience, desires, facts and feelings - sometimes you can't see the stream of this thinking but it happens in order to inform your actions and most of the time can be...

  • This is an important thing I've learnt over the last few years. I've found that when I feel good and am in a stable place if I invest time then to build up my support networks, develop my ability to self-reflect and understand my behaviours, and make the most of opportunities that arise I have a higher capability to respond to hard times or times of crisis in...

  • I think there is an odd dichotomy about the phrase 'vulnerable but invincible'. In my mind I'd actually view it as 'vulnerable and understands they are not invincible, but comfortable with that.' For me invincible suggests no faults or no recognition of faults - it portrays an incredible amount of confidence that is actually unhealthy for a human being....

  • Two things that help

    * The opportunity to talk about it with others - getting a different perspective usually puts things into perspective
    * Tackling something small to change my mindset - breaking down the problem and realising I can affect change

    Two things that don't help
    * When it's been left too long without a conversation about it - difficult to...

  • Hi Lucy. Great point. Yes I agree empathy definitely involves more than just imagining or thinking about how others are feeling. It requires a great deal of listening, in order to first understand where that person is coming from. And I think also checking and rechecking your understanding of the situation. I do this a lot of the teams I coach. Getting them to...

  • I think my strongest is empathy. I've was raised to always consider and understand other people's perspectives and this is a huge part of my job now. It's amazing how few people do this on a day to day basis. My mind is often completely overflowing with imagining how others must be feeling or what they must be thinking - whether it's someone struggling with...

  • I love your final point! I wish everyone had this outlook. I wonder how much culture contributes to how much you feel responsibility to provide positive contributions to the world! I feel like some cultures (my own included) can be much more selfish than others.

  • 1. I can see what he is describing in all types of culture - not just those defined by what nationality you are. Misperception is rife in our societies and in particular in the workplace - people don't seem to have the time or inclination to understand something from someone elses perspective. One common example could be introverted developers who use few...

  • Tessa Cooper made a comment

    It sounds like originally the woman would nod and make eye contact with Mahle too? And that her shouting occurred a few days later? Did something happen between the time when Mahle first nodded at this woman and when the woman started shouting at her?

    In all honesty I would probably be too upset/scared/embarrassed to approach the woman to discuss why she...

  • I love this too. It reminds me of that often used image to illustrate Equality vs Equity vs removing systematic barriers https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/489273946999783856/. It also reminds me of something I read by Charles Taylor about Cultural competency over tolerance http://drcharlestaylor.com/CulturalCompetency.pdf - where he talks about correcting for...

  • I'm a strong believer that everyone benefits if people spend time reflecting on their personalities and how this impacts their approach to work & situations. A good exercise I've done with teams I've worked with is ask everyone to complete this personality test https://www.16personalities.com/personality-types - reflect on what it says about their work habits...

  • I have used inspirational appeals through talking about visions of the future and showing them that change is possible.

    I have used consultation by asking for peoples opinion and experiences of things I am trying to improve

    And beyond consultation, in order to improve those things and ensure everyone has a shared understanding I have collaborated with...

  • Finally I have also led by talking to senior management, giving them feedback on where they are not understood by the rest of the company, pointing out how they could think about things differently and encouraging them to communicate more effectively to the company. So I guess I see this as 'leading by proxy' - I have influenced the leaders.

  • I was made Organisational Development Lead partly due to the power and influence I had developed within the company. I was seen by senior management as someone who could get to know anyone and develop a deep understanding of what motivates them. I've been doing my new role for a few weeks now and as a leader I can definitley see I try to do similar things to...

  • Our creative director is a leader and a manager. She manages the design team day to day to ensure they are working effectively with their product teams ans other designers. She also plans for any changes in staff, like if someone was to go on parental leave and ensures the team are organised effectively. But she is also a leader because she sets a vision for...

  • 1. I don't think the concept of leadership has become to broad to be useful in the workplace but I do think that if an organisation or team is to be led effectively it must be led by different people, in different ways at different times. And by that I do not mean that it must have multiple different CEOs or that it must have a large Management team. What I...

  • This is a great exercise. Interestingly the way i described the leaders I chose was very similar! I mentioned the way they adapted their approaches, the way they empathised with people and the way the empowered others to do things! These are all things I aspire towards myself so it very clearly says something about me.

  • 1. My mum! She would always adapt her parenting approaches to bring out the best in her 3 children (and many foster children). She massively encouraged me to spend time developing my 'soft' skills and showed me how important they were if you want to be able to influence people - she is someone that is brilliant at empathising with a whole range of different...

  • I was wondering about this too as early on in the course it seemed to recommend that you continue offering breastmilk before feeding them food. I just found this article though which suggests it is led by the child - the different stages are useful to know I feel. http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a3272/how-should-i-stop-breastfeeding

  • My partner and I have recently started eating more vegetarian meals and plan to offer our child the same as whatever we eat (without the added salt etc of course!)
    I think it will be important to repeatedly offer something to my child in the future even if they didnt like it the first time. I never used to like olives or anchovies for instance but would try...

  • Tessa Cooper made a comment

    My baby is 3 months old and we may start her on solids a little earlier than 6 months (probably when she can sit up) because she loves to feed! She gulps down any type of medicine she's had - she just loves tasting things I think! She has also always been happy to take a bottle even though she has been breastfed from the start. I think she mighy miss...

  • There is the obvious factor that most cultures are still male-oriented. A friend was shocked when I said that not everywhere in london has a baby changing facility - but most buildings will have been designed and built by men!

    If we want more women to breastfeed this kind of thing needs to be taken into consideration when designing public spaces and work...

  • Honest friends are really important to help get throigh the pain you experience. I remember going to a coffee shop in the first week and breastfeeding in public but being in agony. I kept grimacing and saying 'ow' and I got really upset that I had never seen a woman in pain while breastfeeding before. And my partner had to keep holding the blanket over me...

  • 2/2 Without this support from my partner I wouldve given up in the first few weeks but Im so pleased I made it through that period because now it is just so natural and convenient.

    In addition to support from my partner I think it is also really important to try expressing so that your partner or other family members can help with feeding occassionally. My...

  • I actually expected not to be able to breastfeed for very long as my mum had to chatted to me about how difficult she found it and the pain she had experienced so I assumed I'd have a similar experience and bought formula ahead of the birth just in case.

    However I went along to the antenatal breastfeeding session with my partner and it taught me lots about...

  • Thanks jane. Have just got some freezer bags to start building up a supply for when Im back at work

  • When I was pregnant I actually wasnt to worried about breastfeeding. My mum struggled with breastfeeding with all of her children and only managed a week or so, so I fully expected to have a similar experience. However I went along to the antenatal breastfeeding class and I think it helped prepare me and my partner for the potential challenges and he really...

  • Oh god, the milk squirting can be embarrassing. I was out in a pub the other day and manage to nearly spray her - she was more impressed than anything but it was still slightly embarrassing!

  • When I was pregnant the main advice was usually about what not to eat or drink such as caffeine. I rarely heard or saw much about what you should eat for the development of your baby but Ive been a healthy eater all my life and enjoy a varied diet so I alway assumed what I ate was probably beneficial to the baby.

    Im currently breastfeeding and again the...

  • I personally think that the difference between what people might class as 'digital native' and digital immigrant is not the type of technology that they adopt, or the speed that they understand how to use it, but the speed at which they find the new technology, use it and then move on. Younger people tend to pick up on the latest piece of technology much...

  • Education has needed to change for a long time, way before that need to change became driven by technology. The great thing that technology can bring to education is exploration, allowing students to not simply hear about stuff from a teacher but to experiment with it and experience it for themselves, hopefully giving them.a heightened understanding of the...

  • I'd forgotten about Friends Reunited @rebecca! Interesting example to consider. Think it's important to understand why certain social media has less longevity in terms of how people view what that platform does & how it fits in with their daily lives.

  • There is an interesting difference in opinions in terms of whether the internet, and social media in particular, drives more or less anonymity. I think the way that groups that may have been ostricized or experienced prejudice in other physical social settings in the past can now identify with one another online and create a shared space to talk openly about...

  • I use one account on twitter @tesscooper5 for a whole host of stuff:
    - News aggregation
    - Following certain activities in sectors I'm interested in (education/music/technology etc)
    - Promoting myself & what I do
    - Sharing things that might be of interest to particular people
    - Connecting with people who are interested in similar things to me
    - And...