It was yet another cold, January day when the leadership group from Metro Milwaukee SHRM – the Board, Special Interest Group chairs, and Committee chairs – met for the second of our two planning meetings we hold each year. As you might imagine, the purpose of our getting together is to talk about where we’ve been and, most importantly, where we are going in the next few months and beyond.
But our meetings have always had something more to them, and this one was no different….
We’re always blown away by the time, talent, and energy that our volunteer leaders invest in our association and their profession. We’re fortunate to have professional staff for our chapter, and maybe that makes us a little different, but professional staff is no substitute for an active leadership group.
One way that we show our appreciation for our leadership group is to make sure that our planning meetings aren’t all about the chapter. Nor do we focus purely on networking within the group. We try to spend at least some of our time on personal and professional development. We want our leaders to take away from their volunteer experience something they might not otherwise have experienced.
On that January day, we learned by laughing. And when we were all done, we had a chance to laugh at ourselves.
The bread in our planning “sandwich” was two forty-five minute sessions with a trainer form the Comedy Sportz improvisational group. If you haven’t see a Comedy Sportz show, you really should. It’s good and clean, if not a little bit edgy, fun.
At the root of improvisational comedy is the idea that you don’t really know where a scene is going to go. You learn to react, but you’re not reacting on instinct. Where it may seem there are no rules, there are, in fact, some very simple, but very important rules for successful improv. Apply these rules to your business relationship, we learned, and you can become a better listener. You can also be a better when networking. Or you can be a calm presence in a situation where anger is starting to boil over.
The exercises created plenty of laughter. So much laughter, in fact, that it wasn’t until later, when our trainer debriefed the exercise, that we realized that we had just learned a valuable lesson. One of the most valuable was the cornerstone of improvisational comedy, “Yes, and…” Those two words, we learned, can work miracles at home, at work, and in the community.
When our planning discussion and training was done, we were joined by members and their guests at Comedy Sportz for one of the several HR Happy Hours that we do each year. These gatherings are mostly social and they represent one of our best opportunities to meet one another, swap stories, and seek the answers to the burning questions that will await our return to work the next day. This time, however, we yielded some of our discussion time to what turned out to be a very HR-oriented, and very funny, Comedy Sportz performance featuring five professionals and a whole lot of audience participation.
Somewhere, someone decided to not attend because there wasn’t enough “meat” on the agenda. And that’s OK. Still, for those who attended, it was a shared experience that we won’t soon forget. Laughter brings us together and it opens us up to new ideas.
Ask anyone if they thought this was a good experience and they would tell you, “Yes, and I met someone who helped me solve a problem.” “Yes, and I learned how to really listen to people.” Yes, and I got out of my comfort zone and participated.”