Building Brave Spaces with Improv Mindset

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In today’s episode we interview Shannon Hughes, founder of Enlivened Studios, to discuss how companies can build a “brave space” and an energetic culture through an improv mindset and practices. Shannon shares her insights on creating a culture that promotes open communication, collaboration, and trust. She emphasizes the importance of creating a safe space where team members can be vulnerable and take risks, which is crucial for building psychological safety in virtual and hybrid teams.

Shannon also shares her approach to teaching communication practices inspired by the key tenets of improv theater. She believes that these practices help teams to build empathy, listen actively, and collaborate effectively as they Team Anywhere.

Keys to Successful Hybrid Work Teams

Shannon discussed the importance of connection and highlighted the key element of engagement. It was suggested that starting meetings with a check-in and reminding everyone of the organization’s mission statement can help level set and provide a north star for the team. Additionally, it’s important to be mindful of time and not force unnecessary agenda items just for the sake of being together. One example given was a virtual co-working session where employees worked together and had the opportunity to have water cooler-style conversations in real-time while still getting their work done. It should be built right in the agenda. 

Building Genuine and Meaningful Connections

Building genuine and meaningful connections among team members involves building authentic rapport, reminding them of their humanity, and utilizing check-ins. Creating a brave space and being authentic and intentional ensures that people get what they came for and offers the leader an opportunity to share the workload and foster connections. 

Building Brave Spaces with Improv Mindset

Shannon discusses the impact of improv on business and beyond. She rediscovered her love for improv in 2017, years after her early high school career and early adulthood. She returned to Bats Bay Area Theatresports in San Francisco and was reminded of the significance of listening skills, presence, spontaneity, and agility. She soon realized that improv could be used for a variety of applications beyond stage performance.

 In 2018, she established Enlivened Studios to teach improv techniques to business professionals to help them become better communicators, problem-solvers, and collaborators. Improv promotes openness and real-time feedback, as well as the ability to have difficult conversations by staying in the moment and remaining self-aware.

Skills Derived from Experiential Facilitation

Shannon discusses the skills teams develop through experiential facilitation and how it impacts their effectiveness and efficiency in the workplace. She talks about the improv mindset and its direct touch points with business and being human. Shannon provides an example of a sales kickoff where they practiced gamified learning and sharing stories with a yes and mindset, resulting in improved collaboration and ideation. She also mentions improving communication and inspiring good question asking and listening skills, such as getting a CEO to connect with employees over a box of donuts and a cup of coffee.

Who is Shannon Hughes?

Shannon Hughes is a consultant and facilitator with a calling to nurture ‘people first’ company culture with small and medium-sized teams across the tech and AEC industries. In her practice, Enlivened Studios, she brings strategic business mentorship and experiential teaching practices to incite easeful collaboration and embolden transformational leadership. 

With 20+ years of corporate marketing and HR strategy experience, plus a lifetime of proven leadership, performance and creative devotion, Shannon combines skill + heart into every Enlivened Studios session.

How to Create A High-Performance Remote Team:

Improve Remote Teamwork:

How To Excel as a Remote Team Member

Improve Remote Leadership Skills:

How to Be an Effective Remote Manager

How to Build Virtual Accountability

Improv Mindset Quotes

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