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“Employee Engagement”: The Longest Running Show on Broadway


Literally “Acting As If”


In July, I took my son to his first Broadway show two days before his eighth birthday.  I chose Aladdin since it seemed age appropriate and, well, I could reminisce back to my younger years and mouth the lyrics to A Whole New World without being judged.  Like so many experiences outside of work, my mind eventually makes the inevitable connection between what I am experiencing in the moment and life!

Low Performer, High Performer, Try Broadway Performer!


I am amazed by Broadway actors.  Let me tell you why.  They show up with nothing but 100% enthusiasm and a desire to transfer that enthusiasm to others and to pour their heart and soul into every line, dance step, and a measure of music.  These people are highly engaged employees.  Put aside for a second all of the trials and tribulations that it has taken to get them onto the stage, the modest pay, the second jobs, the odd hours, and the insane amount of competition.  No matter what, they deliver their absolute best every time they set foot on the stage.  In 2016, 13.25 million people experienced that transfer of enthusiasm.  They make it look so easy that we don’t see all the hard work they have put into their craft.

They are the epitome of employee engagement – as Engage for Success puts it, “getting up in the morning thinking, ‘Great, I’m going to work.  I know what I’m going to do today.  I’ve got some great ideas about how to do it really well.  I’m looking forward to seeing the team and helping them work well today.’”

And truly it’s about giving it your all and never halting your dedication to your work, whether that’s an office job or a theatrical performance.  Up and coming Broadway actress Jonalyn Saxer said it best: “It’s also important to really do your work.  Never think you’re better than the work that is required.  You have to be super prepared, and I’ve seen so many people say ‘yeah, I went over the song/dance/sides once, I’ll be fine.’  I believe that everything is 80% work and 20% luck.  You also have to be open to everything.”

There is no denying that the office environment is a little different – although ask yourself how you would react if your director – your boss – asked you to fly on a suspended carpet or “melt” through a trapdoor in the stage.  Would you say, “let’s do this” or “let me think about it”?  It is no different than your boss saying, “I need you to manage this project for our new product launch.”

Hiring “Broadway Performers”


Let’s examine some of the things Broadway actors do differently from everyone else when interviewing for a job.

  1. An Actor Pre-Call Plans – imagine walking into an audition without doing your homework on the role – Disaster!
  2. Actor Practices – they run through their lines more than once and try different deliveries.
  3. An Actor Shows Up with Enthusiasm – they are not acting like they are doing someone a favor when they audition, they are trying to get the role.
  4. An Actor Engages the Audience – they want to draw in their audience and keep their attention the entire time.
  5. An Actor Displays Both Confidence and Vulnerability – they are open to feedback and want to grow within the role.

If We All Performed, Rather Than Worked


Self-motivated, highly competent, take ownership, team player, dynamic and adaptable, good communicator – these are all qualities that top Broadway performers need to possess.  And coincidentally, they’re also what HR Zone identifies as the top qualities of high performing employees.  Picture your work environment.  Imagine every employee arriving in the morning with a level of enthusiasm that mirrors that of a Broadway performer.  Think about how contagious the energy would be and the experience your clients would have interacting with your company all day long.  At the end of a workday – or curtain call, if you will – everyone would be celebrating a productive day.  They would leave knowing they made a difference and that tomorrow they would contribute an equally great performance.

We all know that Broadway actors are people.  They are affected by everyday life…family, friends, living arrangements, and health.  They are not immune to the ups and downs of life and yet we, the customers, never even know.

So maybe this blog has two purposes:

  • To put a little pep in the step of the everyday worker who can take a tip or two from the people who entertain us each night at 8 PM and 2 PM on Wednesdays and Saturdays – Act as if!
  • To pay some respect to those who find a way to spread an amazing amount of energy to all of us, put a smile on our faces and ultimately perform to a level we all aspire to reach.

Broadway performers are not born engaged.  They choose to be engaged out of the love of their art.  Maybe that is a message for us all.

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