Embrace the Drama

It was a typical Saturday morning in the local, neighborhood Bagel Cafe. People go in and place there orders, either to go or to stay and eat. If you eat there, they'll deliver your food to you. During the week it's busy with commuters, grabbing coffee and a bagel to go. On the weekends, more people choose to stay. It's small and seating is generally tight, especially on weekend mornings.

A table became available just as our food was coming out. We squeezed around the table and were settling in when I saw two women, apparently a mother and young adult daughter, looking for some empty space eat. Since we were at a table for four, I said: "Come join us."

When your are sitting so close to other people, it's inevitable that you will strike up a conversation. They were new to the neighborhood, having moved here from a neighboring town. We talked about other places in the country where we all had lived. We talked about local spots around town. The young woman asked if there were any community theaters and we started talking about our local NextStop Theatre. Originally a "black box" municipal experimental theatre, after 24 years it morphed into a professional theatre company in late 2013. "Cat" seemed interested in getting involved.

A few minutes later Theresa gently interrupted us and introduced herself. She couldn't help but overhear our conversation in this tight space. Turns out that she is an assistant director. Before it turned from community to professional and hiring its first paid Producing Artistic Director, she was the artistic director. A connection was made all because someone was listening.

While this wasn't a "dramatic" situation, drama can refer to the action taking place around you. Ideas and opportunities arise when you least expect it. Cat didn't venture out for breakfast that morning expecting to have a door open to her to an opportunity.

· Do you pay attention to the action around you?
· Do you listen to the stories people are telling?
· Do you listen to ideas from people throughout the organization?

Pay attention to how ideas flow in your organization. Is your culture such that commutation channels are rigidly defined. I've been in or heard of situations where directors only talk to directors and if your not at that level, you cannot pass an idea up (or worse answer a question or provide information) to a person at a "higher level". I once served on an industry/government task force. A good idea had been presented and I asked if it could be taken back to the appropriate agency. "That's above my pay grade" was the response I got.

What do you gain if you encourage open communication channels? You gain a great deal. How you communicate reveals much about your culture. Open communication leads to problem solving, creativity and innovation and it will keep your employees engaged.

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