And then 1hr 25min into the show, without a break, the one-woman show was singing an upbeat song supposedly from our shared childhoods (I’d never heard of it, and it would have been played on a radio station I would have switched off). And during the song, she spied little ol’ me and my absolute fascination with the zip on my purse. And she walked right to me and sang right to me and made eye contact right to me. And I made some godawful attempt at smiling back, but had murder in my eyes, because all I wanted was for the goddamn show to be over.
Sometimes people just don’t want to sing the same song you’re singing – sometimes folks would rather cut off their arms than sway a lighter to your tune. Last night I felt the most intense desire to be elsewhere and was totally trapped. There was no way I could fumble my way towards an exit without interrupting the entire performance. I didn’t know how to get out, I didn’t know when I could get out. It made me hate that goddamn show even more.
So if you’re suddenly singing a now song in your organisation, and you’re expecting employees to join the kumbaya circle, here are two things I learnt from last night:
1. Don’t bother with the folks who have checked out. Last night I was OUT, and I was not even remotely interested in being brought in. I was looking at my feet, my purse, people in the audience, the stage floor – anything but that horrible show. I even winced a few times at the songs… Could my body language have been any clearer? So when the one-woman show tried to pull me back in by singing at me, it was just a dumb waste of energy for both of us. She should have sung to someone who was loving it, and given them the show they were cheering for.
2. For the love of all things good, give people the path and the opportunity to exit. Last night I was praying for an intermission, but it never came. Imagine how much pain could have been prevented if I could have just left half way through? I’m pretty certain my bad energy was radiating throughout the place, and how unfortunate is that for an intimate cabaret setting? You would have wanted me out, I wanted to be out. Employees who are hating it want out. Show them the way out.
I suppose my conclusion from the ordeal is the importance of the flipside to change management. When you are creating change, and asking people to join in a new song and dance, it’s just as important to focus on those who have said “hell no” to it. There is a seriously slim chance they’re going to change their minds if they have honestly checked out. So leaders have got to be fair to them, and the rest of the team exposed to that ‘checked out’ energy, and give them an intermission. Inter-mission. You know, a checkpoint within the mission to let someone off the bus. Intermissions are really *expletive* important.
They’re also a great opportunity to get more delicious snacks, and I’m always heartily in favour of that.