Workplace intangibles a focus for new firm
In her years working as a C-level executive, Irene Favreau observed the employee/management dynamic and gained insight into areas where businesses tend to fall short.
“I learned that there was a lack of education when it came to ‘soft skills,’” said Favreau.
The desire to remedy that deficit, along with the prospect of stepping into a training/mentorship role, inspired the Shippensburg woman to open Full Circle Education Group with her daughter, Ashley, in February.
Based in Carlisle, the company provides character-based training in both corporate and school settings, with Irene handling the corporate side and Ashley concentrating on the K-8 classroom.
You won’t see the team engaging in any “trust falls,” or other stunts, however.
“The things we deal with are diversity, inclusion, emotional intelligence, and conflict and change management,” said Irene Favreau, explaining that such “intangibles,” if not addressed, can have a damaging effect on a company’s bottom line. “High-performance teams have a better bottom line and often see a significant return on the investment of training dollars.”
In some cases, Favreau is called upon to be a third-party observer to help facilitate change in a non-biased manner.
“If you’re having an issue with your team and you don’t want to be the bad guy, then you bring in a third party to make assessments and suggestions for change,” she said. “If the conclusion is that some people need to be let go, then the third-party consultant can make the suggestions.”
One of the first things that Irene Favreau does to evaluate a corporate team is to administer individual assessments with the help of a tool called the P60, an EEOC-certified test developed more than two decades ago by Chip Wilson, president and CEO of 360 Solutions, a leadership development firm based in Texas.
The test is comprised of 60 questions that measure sensitivity level, patience, creativity and decision making, among other qualities. The purpose of the P60 is to hone in on a person’s dominant and secondary personalities. Test takers pick a word that best describes themselves in a scenario.
“I took it and it was so on point. Scores range from 1-15 and it determined that I am stubborn and my time management is at a 7,” said Favreau, who uses the test results to develop an action plan for each employee, which is then followed by classroom instruction. “I’ll work with a small group of managers for four hours a month to help bring their leadership skills up to par, and this can go one for three months, or up to a year.”
Working with youngsters
Favreau’s daughter, Ashley, is one of two people in the United States who works as a certified facilitator for Accelium, a game-based skills assessment tool for children.
“Accelium was developed by chess masters and game theory experts in Israel and, as a gaming nerd, I’ve always been interested in strategy,” Ashley Favreau said. Through the program, she is able to determine personality types.
“It serves as an interesting jumping-off point to talk about how students make decisions and if they’re an adaptive personality,” said Favreau, who can then gauge how students would work together as a team.
“The gaming aspect of it evens the tension when you’re trying to correct certain traits,” she said, adding that after the game is over, children have a better understanding of how they can apply its theories to their school and home life. “Lightbulb moments happen intermittently during the lesson,” she said.
The tool, which is designed to supplement Common Core standards, helps children with analytical ability, performance under pressure and critical thinking skills. “We set a baseline before and after, reporting how individuals and groups as a whole improve,” Ashley Favreau said.
Lucy Zander is a parent whose children – Jack, 12, and Liza, 10 – have benefited from enrollment in an Accelium Club, held after school at their elementary school in the Carlisle Area School District.
“The game-based program is a fun and engaging way for them to learn problem-solving and critical-thinking skills,” said Zander, adding that her children look forward to learning and trying new activities each week.
Zander said that she saw her son gain confidence while in the program. “He learned that it is OK, and even encouraged, to try multiple solutions to a problem before finding one that works. Prior to the curriculum, he was easily discouraged if he wasn’t able to solve a problem immediately,” she said.
Ashley Favreau is hoping to offer the program during school hours and said that schools may be more open to working with Full Circle since the state’s Chapter 339 mandate introduced career readiness standards last year.
Growing the business
Full Circle advertises mostly through word of mouth, which can be a challenge for a young company.
“Finding the CEO or president that is forward-thinking enough to realize there is an issue and to be ready to see change is our biggest challenge,” said Irene Favreau.
Kim Coon, who worked with Favreau when she served as CFO of one of his companies, said that she brings a lot to the table when it comes to life experience.
“Irene connects in a very real way with the companies for which she is providing training,” he said.
What continues to drive the mother/daughter team is their passion for helping others,whether they are in a classroom or a cubicle.
“Our goal is to improve emotional intelligence for both adults and children, which will lead to a better corporate culture and improvements in learning for students as our future leaders,” said Irene Favreau.