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David Evans is a former Improv Conspiracy student and performer who moved to Sydney last year. Rather than come back and play with us, he wrote a fantastic article for our blog. We'll take it!
No one teaches you how to manage people. It’s not a skillset likely taught alongside your first job possibly folding jeans at the GAP, lifeguarding at the local pool or if like me, spending your summers scooping ice cream for hungry tourists. The skills that teach us how to inspire, instruct, trust, and motivate others is a talent that somehow gets lost in our current education system and absent from the majority of our professional development training. If you’re lucky, you work a job for a number of years, follow the rules set up by some senior team and wait for your time to crawl up the ladder. In the meantime you pick up the habits of your previous managers whether good or bad and typically adapt their methods on how to communicate information, lead others to success and how to support people through uncertainty during stressful times. It’s a continuous cycle and normally a broken one where the blind are left leading the blind.
I’ve spent 12 years working in professional environments and found myself either at the mercy of really bad management or in the glow and awe of some brilliant ones. When I recently began to lead my own teams again I found myself unconsciously drawing upon my improv experiences and the lessons learned from performing Harolds again and again to help influence and strengthen my own people management skills. For anyone who’s taken improv classes or a weekend workshop you quite often hear about how the skills highlighted in those courses are applicable not only for the students who dream of one day being on SNL, but also for those who dream of being CEO. It soon became clear to me after aligning my personal management style with the principles of Improv, I became a much better manager. Within days there was a noticeable difference in the daily interactions of my team as people engaged with each other instead of hiding behind email. The overall mood in the studio seem to lighten as people slowed down and listened to each other. Productivity increased as individuals worked together to accomplish tasks instead of working independently. The changes were profound.Continue Reading
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