Employee Engagement Lesson from a Goat

Posted by Dianne on Apr 26, 2014 in Blog | Tags:, , | No comment

As a senior in college, I landed a part in “Teahouse of the August Moon.” The plot is not important to this story, which is a good thing because I can’t remember it very well. I can’t even remember the name of the character I played. My most vivid memory of that play is my unofficial role as goatherd. Yes, a goat named Len played an important part in Teahouse. My greatest contribution to the success of the performance was to lead Len down the stairs at the front of the stage, down the aisle and out the door—in a blackout.

It worked great in rehearsal—which took place during daylight. The evening of the first performance, the scene ended, the lights went out, I snatched the lope attached to Len’s collar and led him to the edge of the stage. I quickly descended the stairs. Len did not. He stood rooted to the stage. When the blackout was over, the lights came up to find me with my back to the audience, tugging on Len’s rope and quietly trying to persuade him to follow me.

In the light with a clear view of the stairs, the aisle and the door we were to exit, Len mustered all the dignity a goat can and made the graceful exit we had practiced.

Have you ever had to implement a change at work and met with nothing but resistance? Like Len, your team may be paralyzed because the change feels like a leap into the dark. Make sure you are clear on where the next steps lead before you ask anyone to follow you. Then make sure that your team members are just as clear on what those steps mean to their jobs and their future.

Turn all the lights on and reveal what is to come. In the end it will be much easier than tugging, cajoling and begging for cooperation.

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