All the World’s a Stage: Team Psychology and Performance


Share on LinkedIn

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 in London, 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 flowed in, around twelve of them I think, emerging like two rivers of people from two doors on the side.

I watched them – six 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 twelve 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 glided out of the door (walking in time, incidentally. Even the exit was choreographed). 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/vacation, at a five star hotel in London. 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; on more than one occasion even waving a meat cleaver at you. I think they thought it was funny. I hope so, anyway).

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, turning it into roleplay and theatre, and thereby inspiring their Generation Y employees to be corporate and provide top level service as a matter of pride.

All work is now theatre. That’s how you stand out from the competition – with a unique story and script. Your customer experience will be all the better for it once you realize that, and work out what to do about it.

Picture credit: The Hawaii Theatre, Honolulu

Phil Dourado
Author, Speaker, Independent Consultant
Founding editor of Customer Service Management Journal in the United States, and of its companion title, Customer Service Management Journal (now rebranded as Customer Management Magazine) in the United Kingdom. He is the author of The 6 Second Leader (Capstone, John Wiley & Sons, 27).


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here