Actors and Stagehands

I saw this on my brother-in-law’s Facebook page and chuckled as he spent his career on the “stagehand” side of the entertainment business.  I thought…well, at least he knows the score.  Without the actors, there just isn’t a show.

Having invested my career in building performance management systems, I have often thought that the entertainment business was the ultimate “performance appraisal”….goal driven (bring in the audience), feedback rich (critics in every paper and armchair), and clear rewards (longevity and income), compelling consequences (closing the show).

Perhaps this little chuckle highlights another element – clarity about roles and contribution.  I’ve always heard the phrase “we wouldn’t be in business were it not for the customer“.  But have we clarified the roles and contributions within the organization authentically?

Back in my banking days, retail banking continually bemoaned the fact that commercial bankers were higher on the food chain, while managers desperately tried to convince their employees that was not so.  Managers wanted to retain their staff, and to make sure that their staff was happy.  How can you be happy if you are second string?

I wonder if somehow the opposite makes more sense.  Being clear about the role and place creates either satisfaction or dissatisfaction, but at least it is based upon an authentic sense of reality.  So the dissatisfied employee makes a decision to grow, gain additional skills, and expand their contribution.  Is that a bad thing?

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