Sometimes you have to think outside the box to grow, develop and engage employees. Inspired by her own passion for theater, JLL’s Rabia Coskun found some inspiration inside a box—or rather on a stage— by developing a theater club for her colleagues in Turkey.
The results have been dramatic.
“It’s amazing to see people and new members who don’t know each other well, in a very short time become close,” said Coskun, a Human Resources Director in Turkey. “Through practicing together and getting together for dinner or breakfasts outside of practice, they really bonded. They made real friendships.”
After seeing 15 JLL employees participate the first year, the club is still continuing to gain new members in its second year.
We sat down with Coskun to learn more about her experience with the theater club and how it has helped her team achieve their ambitions.
Q: What’s your role at JLL?
A: I’m currently Head of Human Resources for JLL Turkey. I started as a Human Resources Manager, but once I was promoted, I became a leader for a team of six people. Within the HR family, my role is to support JLL Turkey’s employer branding, retention and employee preferences—from the talent side especially in the scope of younger generations.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for the club?
A: After a merger, we were discussing ways to help our two cultures behave like one and increase team spirit. We thought if we could achieve some personal ambitions in our professional environment and get some of our hobbies into our professional lives, that would be good for everyone. With our admin department, we were witnessing some sort of common hobbies in our company. Theater was one of them, so we chose theater.
Q: What was the response?
A: Our first year, we had 15 people in the club, and now it’s becoming even more popular. This year we launched the second phase, and many more people wanted to participate. We work with professional actors and teachers and act in three different plays, to give everyone a chance to be in main roles. We do one large performance, usually in the middle of the year. Our most recent performance was in early July.
Q: What did you learn about your colleagues in the theater club?
A: It’s not easy to adapt to very different characters. You can really feel the performers’ comfort zones in their behavior, in their speeches and body language. Getting them out of their comfort zone to be able to grow and develop was the goal. Of course, we had some debate and difficult moments, but everyone wanted to respect each other and take each other’s considerations into account. And when we were acting on the real stage, while one team was on stage, the other teams were backstage and you could see the excitement they had watching their friends perform. We saw the teams really connect with each other through respect and hard work.
Q: What personally drew you to theater?
A: It was always my passion to be on the stage. Whether it’s theater or a musical show, this is my ambition aside from professional life. When I was in primary school, I was doing monologues, and then in high school I was in the theater club of my franchise school. I was practicing and performing in shows for all other franchise schools within Turkey. So when we chose the theater club, I was one of the most enthusiastic people about it.
Q: How has the theater club helped you personally achieve your ambitions?
A: This year in particular, I’ve taken on a mentoring role to help other new members. To experience being a mentor was a new ambition for me, and I enjoyed sharing my advice and lessons learned. As HR, I know that teamwork is one of our values, so when JLL supports these opportunities, our team recognizes this support a lot. It was very supported by JLL leadership, which was very motivating for the rest of the team. I’m not just talking about HR; the rest of the team in different departments felt the credibility and engagement. It’s important to continue that, and continue teamwork-related activities.
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