In this current economic climate many organisations are forced to go through restructuring processes resulting in considerable downsizing. This can seriously impact morale and bring it to an all-time low. People are struggling to keep their heads above water but they need to somehow come through this and make it work if their organisation (and their roles) are to survive.
‘Survivors Syndrome’ is when the people who have remained in a job are challenged with delivering not only on their original roles/workloads but also stepping in and stepping up to fill the gaps caused by the loss of their colleagues along with their skills, knowledge and experience.
Low morale leads to negativity causing a ‘stuckness’ in people’s thinking. Fresh thinking is needed to be able to move beyond this, to explore ideas that stimulate. A useful technique to help achieve this is to work with archetypes.
Kate as head of Human Recourses is tasked with rebuilding morale within the organisation. She brings in Evolving Careers Players (ECP) to explore ideas that will be stimulating to the project and the team. A pilot team made up of 4 people across 4 functions of the organisation: I.T. , Finance, Sales and Marketing and Research and Development are selected work with the ideas before the project is rolled out to the organisation at large.
To be in a position to understand the 4 team members ECP need to take on their characteristics. Working with the core principles of ECP around the techniques, structures and methods of theatre, together ECP, Kate and the team are able to identify/recognise the team/themselves as the following archetypes:
The Brick Wall: This role specialises in stonewalling, it refuses to make any contribution to the interaction. It is the archetypal ‘no comment’
The Rescuer: This role is about putting the focus on to other people, calling for help to be given to someone else. This way the spotlight on the self is avoided.
The Mouth: This role likes to talk its way out of situations, saying anything at all, even complete rubbish, rather than have the focus of enquiry more meaningfully directed.
Mr Cool: This role likes to take a laid back approach to life, essentially articulating an arrogance that makes a mockery of any challenge.
The first scenario
The ‘big question/problem’ is raised: ‘How do we rebuild morale’ and is answered in a ‘round robin’ way in character.
This is conversational: by way of dialogue the players take on the identity of the 4 team members. This allows the players to gain an understanding of each person: to get under their skin, to feel their pain and to get into their minds to allow them to know how they think.
Kate and her team observe and the scene is filmed to be watched back and discussed. Each team member is asked to say one positive thing about themselves in the interaction, to say what one thing would they change about themselves to allow this to move on. Then the person sitting to their right is asked to say one positive thing about their colleague in the interaction and to make one suggestion to their colleague of a change to be made to move on. They are instructed to keep this positive. Following on from this the second scenario is established. The team take on the role of directing themselves.
The second scenario
The ‘big question/problem’ remains. ‘How do we rebuild morale’
The players in their characters keep the two positive things mentioned and take on the two suggested changes they could do to move things on. The conversation continues, is observed, filmed, watched back and discussed. Each team member again says one positive thing about themselves in the interaction along with one thing they would change about themselves to allow things to move on. The person to their right once again says one positive thing about their colleague in the interaction and one suggestion of a change to be made to move on.
The exercise was repeated as many times as needed for the team to be confident they had a workable action plan which would help rebuild morale that could be rolled out throughout the organisation.