Tuesday, August 17, 2010

How to Make a Corporate Roast Work

I got a lot of great emails and questions from folks about a group process I use with companies. In my last video, I shared a story about an intervention I sometimes using involving leaders standing in as a symbol of the company and allow the group to roast the company. Unbelievable things happen.

Here's a link to the the video to hear the story - it's the story I tell at the end of the two and half minute video.

The roast is a challenging but powerful vehicle. Of course its a bit risky. One caveat. Be honest with yourself. If you are a confident and skilled facilitator and you are willing to stir the pot and navigate the dynamics than you will find this process rewarding. If not you might not want to try this - or let someone shadow it with you the first time to lend a helping hand in case the dynamics go awry.

Here are a few things I've learned...

1. Finding the right executive is key

2. Develop strong relationship and trust with the group

3. Lead the group in a process of deciding what it feels are ground rules for the process (I'll sometimes have folks even talk about what they think is funny, other roasts they have been in or seen) - let the group self elect one or more people to act as "keepers of the rules" - empower them to remind others when anyone strays off course

4. Have folks speak of the business as "it" never let it become directed at the individuals (the executive) he or she is only an anthropomorphic sit in/representation of the business

5. Before you conclude have a symbolic object to place in the chair and ask the executive get up and join the group (if at all possible I like using circles or U shape configurations when possible - then let the executive take a shot or two at roasting the company

6. You lead a debrief with the whole group including the executive sitting with the participants

7. I know it may sound touchy/feely but do give first the executive and the participants a chance to talk about the emotions, feelings, observations etc... that came up during the process

8. Depending on the context - I move the group to look at tangible action items that can be taken

9. Keep self-effacing humor and fun at the heart of the process - don;t let people get bogged down in pure venting

Hope that helps -. If you do the roast please let me know how it goes. Also please feel free to grab me on my cell if you want to discuss further - 415-948-8087


Thank You!
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