Improv is a unique art form. Friendships are forged, vulnerability is high, teamwork is required.
Being both a teammate and the boss can be a tricky tightrope to walk. To ensure everyone is getting the best version of what they need, expectations and boundaries need to be in place.
Over time, these expectations and boundaries may shift slightly or a large chasm might occur. It's during these times that communication is key.
My community is growing and gone are the days when having just enough experience to seem good is enough. It's when what was working no longer works, what needs to happen is not happening, and the line of friendship and business intersect.
I'm surrounded by some amazing people. I have the honor of performing weekly with some great, talented, and caring individuals. They are my friends and I'm glad to have them by my side. For some time, as a team, we have been sitting in a dip (read this blog post about the dip!) Not wanting to hurt my friends' feelings, I was taking the long way around. Thing is, while I'm walking on eggshells with them, other parts of the theater are booming because I have a no coddling practice in place. Our teachers and coaches give direct notes and push people to level up. We expect competence and as a result, we are seeing it. That is, everywhere but my team.
It doesn't make sense to hold everyone but one team accountable. Friendship and artistic visions are colliding. It's up to me to step up and lead.
So, that's what I did. Was it easy? Absolutely not! Was it welcomed and well received? YES!
That's because of the approach. I don't want to force anyone to do something but this is also a professional theater and it's perfectly reasonable to understand teams need standards.
What makes these hard conversations work are empathy and candor. Everyone knowing their voice matters and will be heard. While, I might not be able to 100% make each person happy all the time, they at least know I have heard them and understand where they are coming from. Being transparent about the theater and candid about where the team is lacking also helps. No one wants to fail due to lack of trying or because they aren't putting their best foot forward.
I brought ideas to the table. We brainstormed solutions. The ability to separate friendship from business was embraced and the result are update expectations and standards for a team that isn't just important to the theater but filled with my friends!