Providing tailor-made professional training services as well as personal, business and educational consultations to clients across a variety of sectors, CALLS Co Ltd is led by Managing Director Theresa Bugeja Calleja, whose passion and enthusiasm is immediately apparent as we sit down to discuss her work.
Describing the company’s roots and her initial involvement, Theresa explains that CALLS Co started out as her father’s business, though at the time, it was primarily focused on finance. Upon taking over the business in 2008, Theresa brought her experience and expertise to bear on the company and as a result, CALLS Co today focuses primarily on human capital development and all that is connected to it.
“Originally, our focus was more on HR and training, but now, we take things further,” Theresa maintains, affirming that HR training is no longer enough. “I’ve been delivering training for more than 20 years, and I’ve been involved in every industry out there, from aviation to financial services. In the beginning, I was satisfied with the results I was getting, but now, research has proven that training alone is no longer enough – a far more holistic approach is needed,” she says.
This approach has led to a shift in the way CALLS Co operates over the years, the Managing Director describes. “We started off with training and consultancy, as well as some mystery shopping to identify where problems lie. Now, we are moving more into what the layman would refer to as life coaching, but it’s a lot more than that: it’s more like a personal strategist.”
Delving further into what this means, Theresa says that ultimately, what companies today need is more of a holistic approach. “Very often, it’s not that staff don’t have the skills or that management needs leadership training – they would have the knowledge, but they don’t have the context in which to actually be able to transfer it to practices in the workplace. Through this personal strategist/life coaching, a company can offer their staff at all levels the support necessary – vis a vis training, coaching, and skills development such as problem solving – and as a result, staff is far more comfortable and engaged at the workplace,” she explains.
Apart from two Master’s degrees to back her up – one in communications and another in adult education with a focus on training and development – Theresa also applies years of experience to her approach, and the growth and broadening of her approach, she says, happened very organically.
“I started off by providing HR support services. From there, I started getting employees contacting me with follow up questions, seeking advice outside of the actual training provided. Because of my holistic approach, I would touch upon certain areas in training that they’d have found relevant, so it started off as an appendix, if you will, to the initial training,” she explains.
“As a spectrum within the life coaching sphere, I focus primarily on relationship management, problem solving, conflict resolution and goal attainment,” Theresa continues, and of course, she still delivers training, describing herself as an optimisation specialist who is “very passionate about helping companies reach their optimum.”
“Regardless of the aspect of your life you are dealing with, being able to optimise everything is essential,” Theresa states, maintaining that the kind of guidance Calls Co offers will even go into things as mediocre, yet extremely important, as how one organises one’s space. “I have a ‘click theory’ whereby everything has to take as few clicks as possible – for example, to make a cup of coffee, if you need 20 ‘clicks’ to do it, that’s 18 too many! Everything is classified as a click – from opening a cupboard to getting a jar out, etcetera. This helps clients become more aware of where they are investing their time, energy, and of course, also taking into consideration the financial and environmental aspects.”
Delving further into the benefits of focusing on personal development, Theresa quotes findings of a recent study by Gallup – findings which caused quite a stir among locals, branding the Maltese the angriest and most worried people in Europe. “We are not a war torn country; we have free public health and public education, so our basic needs are catered for, which makes these findings all the more concerning,” Theresa states, pointing out that, if people are wasting energy worrying, they are not getting things done; worry does not produce anything.
“This brings us back to optimisation,” she continues, “which helps staff to be engaged and ensure they are working at optimum levels. People are not machines, and I appreciate that – my optimal level today may not be the same as it is tomorrow – but the best you can perform is what we should aim for.”
Quoting the same survey, Theresa refers to findings that the Maltese came in penultimate in the EU when it comes to joy. “The fact that people are not experiencing joy means that in their private lives and at work, they are underperforming. What is impinging on this joy? Different reasons, though work can certainly be one of them.”
“When I am in the workplace, I see it all the time – often, the individuals are great; but when they come together, there is jarring and a lack of consonance. This is where Calls Co comes in. Because of our background in HR, we can identify the needs and cater for them through training, team building, and also on a one-to-one level. The benefit to the individual is peace, improved relationships and dynamics with others, and as a result, increased productivity, efficiency and output,” she maintains.
The business also stands to gain, of course. “First of all, there is decreased staff turnover, which is a huge issue right now, because individuals are happier at the workplace. Then, it will also be easier to move staff within the company – with the technical training supporting this. As part of the training, I get to know each individual’s strengths, and am able to advise on how these can be applied. This gives a better understanding of how that person can fit, not only within their current role but also in others. Very often, internal recruitment is preferable to external, so I will help the company, as a result of my work, identify the individuals and fit them in their new role,” Theresa continues.
Ultimately, the benefits of this holistic approach incorporating life coaching speak for themselves. Citing the domino effect that happens as a result, the Managing Director smiles, “this leads to better workplace dynamics and more transfer of knowledge, while the company benefits from decreased costs, increased profitability through decreased staff turnover and sick leave, increased productivity, less conflict and a culture where there is mutual growth.”
All photos by Inigo Taylor