I went to an open mic comedy night last week. It was a quiet weekday evening and the sparse audience consisted mainly of friends of the guys doing a turn. I can’t say I laughed out loud at any point but I had a great evening. Yes there were some dire jokes, but what made the evening so enjoyable was the passion of the people learning their chosen trade.
It takes guts to do stand-up. You’re putting yourself on the line and open to ridicule every time. Yet up they got one by one and gave it their all. I began to appreciate their courage and determination to keep going, when lines they’d spent hours creating fell flat in an instant. But how else can you learn to be a comedian? A comedian is only funny if the audience laughs and the only way to find out is to stand up in front of one. The audience plays a key role. They’re not passive, they can either support and encourage the performer or destroy them. It’s the ultimate feedback and performance assessment.
So where do managers go to practice their art? It’s well known that there is a massive management skills gap in the UK. Many, many managers find themselves in a management role because of their technical expertise, not their ability to lead people. The only way a manager is going to get better is if they get effective feedback to support and encourage improvement. In a way a manager and their team are like the performer and the audience. How they work together is make or break. What if the nature of the manager – team relationship was to change and become more like an open mic night? How would that change the workplace?