What Improv Can Teach Us About Team Building & Trust
My improv group had its second show last night. It was scary and exhilarating, and hey, about 5 non-family members paid $8 to watch us! I am fascinated to explore the connections to team coaching that improv provides.
Everything in improv is about the group, No one can be successful without the team. Team success is celebrated and what we all have to buy into. I see our group organically moving through the stages of building a cohesive team (Trust, Productive Conflict, Commitment, Accountability, Joint Results). Here are a few examples.
First, we have started defining ourselves as a team not a group. We started as a loose practice group that met on Saturdays with no objective except to practice improv. We have evolved into a team with a name (Third Person) and the objective to perform for paying(!) audiences. We further reinforced the sense of team by having a group photo and Facebook page.
Second, we have been building trust. We started communicating as a group between practices using What’s App. We often hang out after practice, and before shows getting to know each other beyond the practice setting. We started acknowledging milestones in our lives like birthdays. We put out invites to the group to attend other improv events. All these actions help us to build vulnerability-based trust – the essential base of the pyramid for developing a cohesive team.
Third, the person who organizes the logistics of our team ensures that we all have a voice. He helps guide us and persuades us, but he doesn’t pull the power card unless necessary. He also arranged for us to work with an improv coach who delivers expert insights, advice and motivation.
We have a long way to go in mastering improv, but the journey is so enjoyable and feels very safe with my team. And while the workplace isn’t necessarily an improv stage, didn’t the world’s most famous playwright say that “all the world’s a stage.”