Oh, Patti Stanger, once again, your wisdom has unwittingly transferred over to the world of recruitment and talent management…I’m referring of course to TV’s Millionaire Matchmaker, who I’ve once likened to a talent recruiter in how she is often challenged with finding a happy medium between giving her clients what they want and what they need – even when the two don’t always align.
In Tuesday night’s episode, however, Patti exhibited the qualities of a manager who understands the value in providing opportunities for employees to develop the skills that will not only help them succeed in their endeavors, but ultimately reflect well on her abilities as a leader.
During the episode, Patti coaxed her client, Michael, to take a class that would help the “painfully shy” bachelor to become more outgoing. While the scene already served as a great example of how managers should actively encourage their employees to improve their skill sets, Patti went one step further. She went the unconventional route by making Michael take an improv comedy class, which she recognized as a way to not only improve his confidence, his ability to engage his date in conversation, and ultimately his chances of closing the deal securing a second date…but also to help him have fun doing it.
What is improv comedy? If you’ve ever seen “Whose Line Is It, Anyway?” (or last night’s episode of Matchmaker) you’re already familiar with improv, or improvisational, comedy – that is, comedy that is made up on the spot by a group of actors, based on a suggestion from the audience.
How improv works in the business world. There’s a reason why companies like Pepsi, McDonald’s and United Way have utilized improv theaters like Second City and iO for their corporate training – and why several business schools include improv classes in their curriculum: The very skills that improv comedy teaches performers for use on stage (and, evidently, singles for use in the dating world), also transfer remarkably well to the business world. Among just a few of the business and presentation skills it helps students hone:
- Thinking on the spot
- Listening and communication
- Innovative thinking
- Taking initiative
- Knowing one’s audience
- Presenting with confidence
Improv is also a great team-building tool – not least of all, because it’s a unique experience employees get to share. But with its “Group Mind” mentality, improv also teaches groups to work together and agree on a uniform idea, while recognizing every person’s individual input. In fact, the first lesson taught in improv is to say “Yes, and…,” an exercise that helps others get along, and learn to accept others’ unique ideas.
For these reasons, improv is also great for developing your own management skills, as the “Yes, and…” aspect forces you to listen and explore the possibilities contained in new ideas, rather than rejecting them off the bat. You’ll gain trust and respect from employees by learning how to listen to others in a way that shows they are being understood, and learning to stay open to new ideas. It also forces you to pick up on nonverbal cues, such as body language and eye contact, helping you better understand what your employees are telling you, even when they don’t say it aloud.
Why now? At a time when employers are struggling to keep workers engaged and retain them, investing in this type of training can not only raise morale, but it also sends a clear message to your employees that you’re committed to providing learning and development opportunities (a lack of which is a major reason employees leave companies) – and that you care about their engagement in the company.
What about you? Have you ever used improv as a training tool at your organization? What was your experience?Related
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