Could teaching your employees improvisation skills, help them unlock their potential? Well according to the people at RADA – yes it can!

They have created the ‘Thinking on your feet’ report to explore the benefits improvisation skills could have for the workforce.

“One of the benefits of improvisation is helping us to feel confident in rolling with whatever the day throws at us” says the report.

In fact, RADA asked people: How would developing improvisation skills change your effectiveness in the workplace? 93% of people felt that it would improve their performance in a significant way.

So how do you make sure that you can create the right culture for improvisation?

Building a workplace culture and environment that fosters successful improvisation is a delicate balancing act.

It is clear there are a range of factors that influence employee’s abilities to relax and think on their feet.

It’s critical to give people sufficient time to pause and think. 41% of people said that being overloaded with work severely affected their ability to think creatively, as did coping with unrealistic expectations or targets.

Leaders and line-managers who use pressure tactics to try to elicit better performance may find that people make poorer decisions, as their effectiveness decreases when they feel unsupported.

Many people highlighted the importance of being given roles and tasks appropriate to their experience and for employers to invest in good quality training.

Making workplaces a safe, supportive space where people have the freedom to experiment to succeed – and sometimes fail spectacularly – is crucial. Many of our interviewees talked about the importance of a positive workplace culture (25%) and being confident in having the understanding of a boss or manager, as well as supportive colleagues.

Which aspects of the workplace impact your ability to relax and think on your feet?

Timeline / deadline pressures
Unrealistic expectations
Workplace culture
Understanding from my boss / manager
Support from colleagues
Unrealistic goals / KPIs
Cliques in the office
Decision hierarchies
Lack of support / guidance
Lack of training
Lack of experience

This can also be undermined by more toxic cultures, such as workplace cliques or confused decision-making processes.

RADA’s research showed a very mixed picture across UK workplaces. Practices in 41% of workplaces were found to be having a detrimental effect on empowering their workforce, whereas only 25% were creative the right environment for improvisation to thrive.

Furthermore, the vast majority of people said that the actions of their managers and leaders didn’t support a culture of improvisation and creative thinking. 36% said that they actually made it harder, while 37% were said to have no impact.

This compares to just 27% of leaders and managers who successfully fostered people’s ability to improvise.

According to the survey, the biggest contribution leaders and managers can make to promote effective improvisation is to trust their teams. Workers said that they were more likely to relax and think creatively when they were empowered to make decisions (38%), or when trusted to manage in their leader’s absence (34%).

Socialising and building a personal rapport to support the professional relationship can also be effective, with 37% saying that this had benefited them.

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