Three ServiceNet Staff Presented at Providers’ Council Annual Conference on Using Improv for Team Building
For the fifth year, three ServiceNet staff members presented about using improv to strengthen teams at the Providers’ Council annual conference. The Providers’ Council is the largest Human Services membership association in Massachusetts, and its annual conference offers a variety of opportunities to network, professionally develop, and more.
Katrina Manegio, administrative clinical supervisor with Developmental & Brain Injury Services at ServiceNet, and Amy Timmins, vice president of Community Relations at ServiceNet, first proposed the improv training to the Provider’s Council in 2016. They then brought on board Janelle Matrow, a speech-language pathology assistant in ServiceNet’s REACH Early Intervention Program. Katrina, Amy, and Janelle had various experiences working in improv or using improv for professional training and were excited to combine their expertise for the convention.
While improv and human services work may initially seem an odd match, they work well together for team building and day-to-day work with clients.
“When I ran the autism program at ServiceNet, we would work with young children and their families, and we would often talk about the importance of being in the moment and finding what the child is interested in,” Katrina says. “And the therapy gets so much richer when, as staff, we’re able to be flexible and playful that way. Improv activities help build those skills. So when I was working on staff training and the like, I stumbled on to improv activities as a way to help build those skills.”
Katrina’s experience struck a chord with many at the annual event. The first year’s improv presentation at the Provider’s Council was such a hit that the team has presented every year since, expanding and building on the original presentation and adapting it to work online and in hybrid settings. At this year’s conference, a ServiceNet client who also enjoys improv joined the team as a presenter as well. And the team once again presented to a packed crowd.
“I think often we go to conferences and hear about great things, but when you get back to work, you aren’t able to do anything with the ideas because they are so big,” Katrina says. “But these improv activities are concise, easy, and immediately applicable. Every year after the conference, sometimes just days after, we’ll hear from people who have already started using the games and tools. And that is so rewarding to support.”