Transitions and Expectations
I'm constantly looking at ways to improve. No system is ever perfect and since I have a growth mindset, I'm just naturally inclined to tweak, test, repeat.
This requires a shift in expectations from those around me and many times a transition from old to new. While improv teaches us to continually adapt to ever changing circumstances, not everyone who is an improviser has mastered this key element or even fully embraced it. As a result, I need to be mindful of transition periods.
I recently changed the expectations of one of our teams that we cast internally. Knowing that these were going to be pretty significant, I tried to do what I could to minimize the transition. As I have said, transitions to the new expectation can be difficult so here are some tips on how to make transitions in your life, theater, or relationships easier!
It's essential to communicate ahead of time that something is going to change. It's not enough to say, "we need to change". Just like an improv scene, specificity is the key to communication. Think about the changes that need to be made and then before communicating this to the other person or team, write out exactly what has happened, what is going to happen, and how it's going to happen.
We've been arriving late. We are no longer going to arrive late. We will mark down if we are late.
That's not very specific or useful. Here is one way to approach it instead.
Our call time is for 7:30 pm. As a whole, we have been arriving sometime between 7:35 and 7:40 pm. As a result of letting call time become lax, we do not have as much time to connect as a team, we are feeling rushed to settle in for the show, our duties such as getting chairs set up and ensuring supplies are stocked have been mismanaged.
So we can alleviate these issues, we are going to recommit to showing up on time. In fact, to get back into the habit of this, we will now make our call time 7:20 pm. We will use this extra time to work together, get our tasks complete, and connect to the team. If we consistently show up on time then after 4-weeks we can discuss moving our call time back to the original time of 7:30 pm. If members are late, they will be marked on the form we have created. The first tardy will result in the team verbally reminding each other that we are working on arriving on time. On the second tardy, the team member will be expected [insert agreed upon outcomes].
This is a clear and direct path to what has happened, what needs to happen, and how it will happen. This helps get everyone on the same page and working together.
Create expectations together
Above was [insert agreed upon outcomes]. It's always better when possible to engage the team in a conversation where they have an opportunity to brainstorm and develop solutions to either the problem or approaches to the new way that's going to occur. Not only does this help everyone feel as if they have a say, it helps people feel accountable to one another.
Additionally, I have found many times, team members have much better ideas about the new approach or expectations. So be open to doing this work together versus you just coming in and saying this is exactly what's going to happen, end of discussion.
Give a timeline
Sometimes change needs to happen swiftly and fast. However, most times, we can have some sort of window of change and transition. It's ideal to do this so people can adjust accordingly. That doesn't mean months and months. Taking the above example of call time, you can make it a team meeting on Monday and say the new approach begins on Saturday. Just having a clear timeline, just as specific expectations of the new behavior, helps make this a positive change. It's super simple and if it helps make everyone successful, why not just do it?
These are just a few tools I use when changing expectations. Try them out! I hope you find them helpful.