We had a wonderful run of “A Christmas Carol” this weekend, with a full house at almost every performance, and only a few hiccups during the shows (like the Ghost of Christmas Present finding his missing wreath in the garbage bin?!). As I went through the rehearsals and performances, I saw some parallels to the business world. Today’s post about the director is the first of three with some insights from the stage!
They’re in the trenches, too. The director is the person that tells everyone where to go, when to go there, how to go there, and why to go there. This person touches every part of the show, from the props, to the costumes, to the timing. They’re the boss, just like in the office. Sometimes, it feels like they have the cushy job, sitting out in the audience in nice cool clothes, writings criticisms, and talking freely when the mood strikes. But you have to remember, they’re in the trenches, too! That late night rehearsal that went until 11 pm? The director was probably there until midnight. When you start to get frustrated about the “glory job” of the director, remember that they’re sweating alongside you, staying up late, and generally pulling for the same goal. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that your boss is doing the same thing: taking the 6 am flight to the tradeshow (remember meeting at the airport?), eating the take-out food during a late-night meeting (the boss probably paid for it, too!), and fretting over the presentation to the big client (remember those edits that hit the inbox at 2 am?).
Take the constructive criticism. It’s always hard for someone to tell you about areas that need improvement, but take the constructive criticism to heart. I always have to remember that the director can see the entire stage from where they’re sitting, and I can only see my little part on the stage. I don’t see all the moving pieces, the transitions, and the whole picture, so when my director gives me constructive criticism, I should take it. The same is true in business, as my boss knows the company-wide strategy, the inside information, and has the experience in the industry. I may think I know everything, but I probably only see my function, instead of the entire department.
Timing is everything. With everything the director needs to deal with, timing your requests, suggestions, and complaints is crucial. I’ve seen inexperienced actors come up to the director in the middle of the show with just a quick little question about what time rehearsal will let out. Poor timing! The director usually gives a short answer, no answer, or some other form of being a little bit annoyed, which then makes the actor upset that the director was rude. However, had they timed their question better, all the negative feelings could have been avoided. The same is true with compensation discussions, asking for vacation time, and pitching new projects in the workplace. Are you coming to your boss with a request for a raise right in the middle of a high-level budget crisis, or are you choosing a time when you can both sit down with information to discuss the raise? Are you trying to take vacation just before a deadline for the company’s biggest client, or have you found a time that will minimize the impact for your team? Timing is everything when you have to many people working together, both on-stage and off!
The director is the boss, and they’ve got a lot of knowledge and a lot of responsibility to make sure the show goes well. Check out tomorrow’s post for more lessons from the stage!