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All the world’s a stage: team psychology and performance

I just heard a psychologist talking about how people perform better when they feel they are being watched or ‘on show’. It reminded me of Pine & Gilmore’s book The Experience Economy and the notion that all business is now theatre and your people are players.

As European Customer Management World is coming up next month, that, in turn, reminded me of last year’s event. My friend Chris Daffy had invited some people to a pre-conference dinner. Each course was introduced by the chef and then the servers swept in, around ten of them I think, like a river from two doors on the side.

I watched them – five on each side of the long table – step back in unison and glance at the head waiter, who gave a small signal with a nod of his head, like a conductor of an orchestra setting the timing.

All ten moved forward at the same time, like dancers, and placed the next dish before the guest in front of them. Then they stepped back, all turned as if in military formation, and strode out the door. Some of them were smiling to themselves in satisfaction. I wanted to give them a round of applause.

This wasn’t serving a meal. It was choreographed theatre. It was art. When I was a student I used to be a room service waiter in the summer holidays, at a five star hotel. It was boring work with long hours and a gruelling regime in the kitchens when you ordered and collected the meals as the lowest of the low – the waiter (think lots of Gordon Ramsays shouting at you).

But these people weren’t at the bottom of a pecking order. They were artists on show, part of a flawless team. And they knew it. Whatever your sector is, you can do the same. The Geek Squad even does it with IT service and repair.

All work is now theatre. Your customer experience will be all the better for it once you realise that.

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