Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Acting made me a better manager today

Today, I was doing training at BigHugeCorp for our new performance review system, and my acting came in really, really handy.

No, I'm not being sarcastic (even though I think our new rating system is a crock and the corporate sell job is embarrassing).

Today, at work, I was handed a script. A real, honest-to-goodness script.

It was a role playing scenario, the instructor asked if there were any real actors in the group, and I nearly dislocated my shoulder answering before the question sank in.

I and another manager (who happens to be a sometime actor) got a moment to read our couple of pages, then go.

Today, I did a cold read at BigHugeCorp. Didn't see that coming, and it was a nice surprise.

But it got better, because I had an epiphany today -- my acting makes me a better manager.

Specifically, I realized I could apply the rules of improv ("Yes, And ...") and Meisner ("Observation of behavior", rather than "Opinion of observation") to have better, more open conversations with the folks who work for me, and those with whom I otherwise work in different ways.

This shouldn't have surprised me (really, an epiphany isn't new information; it's just an "aha" moment where things I already know click in a new and meaningful way).

But the reason I do stuff (The Mastery, Meisner, running) is to be a better person -- and that should improve all the stuff I do. Including being an actor and being a manager. It just became obvious in a real-world way for me today.

Not that it was all rosy. I also got to see what it looks like when managers buy into basically the same performance rating process change Enron did. Nice.

But even with that, the glass for today is still looking pretty half full to me today ...

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