Change is a good thing; it is a sign of life.
It also creates plenty of opportunities for tension, misunderstandings about who's job is who's, opaque communication as leaders try to keep up with a wave of new priorities, and feelings of insecurity about how to participate and what the future holds.
Growth-related change is often the reason my clients reach out to me. They are good leaders. Some of the best, in my humble opinion. And there's still friction and frustration in the midst of change.
When we're navigating change, the solution for a smooth transition isn't just "good leadership"... it's proactive confrontation infrastructure. Confrontation is like a river; it's just going to flow. That is it's nature. I don't find it helpful to approach discussion about and planning for confrontation with imagery of "putting out fires."
If you're extinguishing the passion people are bringing behind you're ideas, you're not leading - you're deciding to maintain status quo. Putting out fires is what happens when we learn to manage each other instead of learning to embrace each other, and truly collaborate.
I'm much more interested in teaching leaders how to carve out a plan for where the excess water can go when the rains come, so that the water can move with all it's might in a direction that is not damaging. When big change is on the horizon, you must be proactive about this. Otherwise, you don't get to be mad when the banks over flow and knock down your barn.
Here are 4 improv-based suggestions to begin creating a pathway for high water, and encouraging your team/ co-workers to flow in the direction of what cultivates a healthy, thriving office culture. Watch the video linked above for deeper context, but here is an outline:
How your leaders handle confrontation matters. It matters for your ability engage and retain team members, deliver on project deadlines, provide the highest quality to your customers and ultimately, it determines whether or not you can create a culture that matches your intentions.
If you're not in a position of leadership, know that modeling the work of curiosity instead of judgement and choosing to engage tense/heated dialogue with your coworkers with courage makes a big difference too. If I were to offer three pieces of advice to the ones of you who do not currently have a title reflective of their leadership capacity it's this:
What I love most about using improv for confrontation is that there's no barrier to entry. Anyone can start behaving this way and can deeply impact the culture around them, without any buy in from anywhere else in the hierarchy.
If you'd like more insights on using improv to grow as a leader (of a team or of your own life!), sign up for our weekly notes of improv-based advice and inspiration.