The Chief Corporate Wardrobe Selector

The costume wardrobe room for a theatre production is an amazing and vibrant place. It contains a multitude of various clothing props in a range of sizes, colours, designs, accessories, time-periods and fashions; it is almost like entering a “house of fiction” where the options for selection, combination and use are endless!

If you observe those entering the room, they will look quite normal. They will wear the same traditional casual or work attire that most people would adorn. However, on leaving the room, they will have a completely different appearance. It is almost as if the actor discards their normal appearance and personality in the wardrobe room from which they depart with a tantalising and decidedly new modus operandi for their behaviour. This new profile may be assertive, reserved, allusive or seductive; the key requirement is that it is different; their clothes also complement and support their new character.

This got me thinking about how people behave in the corporate office. If you study your colleagues in your workplace, you will see a high frequency of suits, ties, skirts, shirts and jackets. But how often do you see someone adorning a bow tie, stylish tartan shorts, a bright pink fluoro shirt, a beret, or some other unique clothing item? The answer is most rarely, if ever!

An actor uses a range of clothing costumes to enhance their character and to instil and encourage certain qualities that they want to promote during their theatrical performance. If all of your work colleagues are dressed similarly, this may lead so a standardised thought and minimal opportunity for those creative individuals amongst you to fully express themselves in the corporate office? Some people may also receive that additional “spark of motivation” that accompanies the wearing of a costume to break free from their “reserved person label”?

Why not encourage this opportunity for corporate creativity by having an “office costume room” that all employees must walk through as they arrive at work? Each person would be required to select a different costume each day, under the supervision of the “Chief Corporate Wardrobe Selector”, to inspire a different way of thinking in the office. At the conclusion of the working day, employees would once again pass through the “office costume room” and change into their traditional clothing attire.

Just a thought, but maybe it will help people think that little bit differently?

The Script of Change

Theatre..

The life of an Actor is one of continual change. When the Actor is handed the script that defines their character in a theatrical play, they immediately immerse themselves into exploring their new role in a professional manner, as does all the acting cast. Initially, they may have some reservations or hesitancy on their newly assigned task, but they accept the challenge knowing that with time and practice they will eventually master what is required from them.

The Actor will also typically make extensive research into the profile of their designated role to ensure their performance in credible and consistent with the other performers in the play.

With time, the actors start to discard their own individual personality and begin to morph into the required behaviour that is required in order to ensure the required artistic success.

The parallels with that of an actor and an employee experiencing a corporate change management program are quite similar and many a business organization can learn a lot from the process.

The Script – In a corporate change management program the employees are typically provided with high-level objectives that they are then expected to deliver with a sense of urgency. (This is like handing the actor the script and then asking them to make a public performance with minimal time to prepare for their role. The result will undoubtedly not be optimum).

Role Practice – Employees are asked to modify their behaviour to be consistent with the required change management program. To many employees, this new behaviour may be quite challenging and inconsistent with their experience and skill set. (The actor needs time to practice and research their new role to make sure they get it right. They will make many mistakes prior to the actual performance, but these mistakes are opportunities to learn, modify and master their new role). Business management needs to provide employees with the skills required to deliver the change management program and to tolerate any learning mistakes made along the way.

The Props – Most corporate organizations use posters, videoconferences and other e-messaging techniques to try and support the change program. However, most are deemed to be superficial by employees and do not achieve the targeted result (In a theatrical play the stage is continually changed to support the actors and to create an atmosphere that embellishes the actors on the stage, and those observing off-stage in the audience). The corporate office provides a vast array of potential prop opportunities, some examples: why not move the CEO from their office to a desk out with the employees (a bit like having a military General out in the battlefield with their troops, rather than sending commands from the isolated HQ), move the employees to another external office which may have less of the corporate trimmings to signal the change in work environment and thought, or reposition work teams from their well established office position to other parts of the building (or into fragmented teams), etc, etc.

Have Auditions – many employees have been type cast into their existing roles based on their previous experience in those roles (An Actor auditions for a variety of different roles and is willing to explore new opportunities and characters). In a corporate change management program, employees need to be given a script that allows then to think differently and to utilise many of the skills that may have been hidden as they were only allowed to use some of their personality attributes that were consistent with their current role and job appraisal criteria. For a change management program to be successful, HR needs to allow employees to exhibit other creative and innovative flairs of skill that the organization may have actively suppressed (which may be one of the reasons why the business needs to now change!)

The theatrical play, together with the corporate change management program, will enjoy raptured applause and success when all the participants have been provided with the required time to practice, perfect their script, and have the appropriate props. The outcome will be a shout of “BRAVO” from the audience (and the business community)!

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