My wife, Nina, and I heard an interview with an actor, Cindy Im, who is part of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival this year. These interviews with members of the company range all over the place. The insights provided are often remarkable.
Cindy was asked what makes a good director. Without missing a beat, here is what she offered. The words in italics are derived from my notes about what Cindy said.
A good director is interested in the best idea, not just their idea. Such a director listens and considers all that the other members of the production offer and then makes a decision. The ultimate success of the production is what matters, not that the director’s ideas are always the ones used.
In your business, doing that will get you remarkably good suggestions from your employees. If your way is always the right way, your people will underperform and eventually leave.
Relationships Are Managed
In order for a director to be heard they need to get the buy-in of all those they are working with. Investing in the relationships with other members of the company makes the work of bringing the play to life easier. Why? People listen to those who have listened to them.
If someone is not as much a part of the company as the director feels they need to be, then the director addresses that matter with the person privately. Creating an atmosphere of inclusivity involves hearing both what is said and what is not said.
Working with your employees over time requires staying in touch with them and adapting to fit who they become. Time's passing brings changes. For example, two employees who used to get along now are not. You need to address the dissonance with both of them, helping all of you understand how to reset the relationship.
Actors like to work with a director who comes into the rehearsal room with a clear vision of what they want the play to be, to accomplish, to represent. What will drive the energy out of the room is the director trying to figure out that vision during the rehearsal.
Very few remodeling companies have a clear vision. If there is one, it is not referenced routinely. The power of creating and respecting a clear vision is enormous. The results of doing so include happier, more productive employees and greater profits.
The deal is that the owner needs to create and own that vision. The owner can get help doing so, but the vision must be the owner’s.
Not Distracted by the Little Issues
Bringing a play to life involves much discussion and an incredible amount of choices. This makes for a lively dialogue in the rehearsal room.
The result can be some people feeling unheard.
A good director notices these little issues but stays the course. The director might address such matters privately but not bring them up with the team, as the team will then be distracted.
As an employer and a boss, this is often the biggest challenge you face. Sometimes employees seem like little children. You feel like you are going crazy trying to bring stability and focus to the business.
Don’t let the little issues bog you down. Accept that they are part of the deal. Then deal with each one appropriately which usually entails not making them a big deal.
The rest of Cindy’s comments were also fascinating. I continue to be surprised where I can find lessons for my work.
Next time you see a play, think about all the choices involved and all the people management involved in bringing the play to life. Then go back to your business and make it the play you want to be in for a long time.