Just Give Them the Clapboard | HR Fishbowl

I am admittedly not home a lot – don’t spend enough time with my wife and kids. That happens to be purely a function of the purgatory we’ve been in for the last 90 days: Job in Chicago, Home in St. Louis. All of that changes December 1st when the whole gang will once again be under one roof. In the meantime, my attention remains in high demand when I’m home. My daughters – 7 and 5 – are stuck to me morning, noon, and night. I love it, but I have to admit it makes it hard to keep things interesting for them.

On a whim this Sunday we decided to make a movie. Here’s how this worked. I spent all of about 5 minutes – no joke – giving them a crash course in film  (I love it how kids accept you unconditionally as an expert in anything you throw their way). We talked about how to make a story board, how to write a screen play, the set, the costumes and props, the director, the actors, and the camera. We talked about editing and production. They soaked it up and then they went to work…on their own. The youngest created the story board, the eldest (diva-in-the-making) laid claim to pretty much every role. And I relaxed, finished my coffee, and devoured the paper. They came back an hour later dressed in their first costume and ready to shoot the first scene. We spent the next two hours filming and they directed the whole thing…every last bit. And but for a brief moment when the eldest complained of not being given enough “creative liberty,” all was perfectly tranquil…and fun…and amazing. I am in love with them!

The link to Talent Management? Even a 5 and 7 year old can grab a project – which might ordinarily be reserved for “greater minds”  – and wrestle it to the ground if they are a) excited by the subject matter, b) given just a little guidance, c) set free to do as only they can, and d) hopeful they’ll get a spotlight thrown on them for doing so. But it also needs to be so far from the realm of normalcy – a break from the rigmarole – that it captures their every attention. Do you assign work or projects to your employees based on what they were hired to do or based on what they might enjoy doing? Mostly the former…I hope. But do you ever mix it up with the later? Here’s a thought: make a list of all the things your organization would like to do “if only it had the time.” Circulate the list to your employees. Invite them to select one thing they’d like to help wrestle to the ground…first come first served. Ensure them there are no strings attached, but warn them there is no promise of glory. Give them (a little) guidance, turn them loose, and let them direct.

Children making movies? No. Magic? Maybe. Nothing to lose? You bet.

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