Everyone who travels for work has their little rituals to fight the boredom of bland hotel rooms and lonely per-diem dinners. Some people go to movies, others hit up the local brewery, but me… I go straight to the karaoke bar. Talk about incredible people watching! After watching hundreds of off key performances of “Black Velvet” and “Summer Nights” I’ve come to realize that the personas displayed behind the beer-soaked microphones are the same personas we see in offices across the country. The question is, are you playing to their strengths or simply heckling them from your seat in the crowd?
- Over-Reacher– There is always that one singer who actually has a decent voice but simply picks songs that are too difficult for him/her to really knock out of the park. In the office setting, these are the people that desperately want to be seen as contributing but often miss the high notes of the project. They’ve got plenty of great skills but haven’t been developed into soloist material. In order to get them to the next level, look for ways to train them and pair them with more seasoned professionals.
- Duet Dominator– In a drunken stupor, the Duet Dominator brings a hesitant friend up on the stage by promising “It will be fun!” After slinking by the sullen DJ, the friend shifts awkwardly while the duet dominator over-sings every line into the one, shared microphone. You probably have a co-worker who works in a similar fashion. Instead of sharing the load, they take charge and end up being overworked and frustrated. Help them by clearly delineating the tasks between group members. Don’t wait for them to pass the mic; regularly check in to see how you can assist.
- One Hit Wonder– Some karaoke bars have regulars. They show up early and request to sing the same five songs every week. When their name is called they don’t even look at the words on the screen, instead choosing to channel their energy into finely-tuned hand gestures and over rehearsed one-liners. Like the One Hit Wonder, some co-workers have become so polished at certain aspects of their job that they shy away from ever engaging in new challenges. They know what they are good at and won’t go above and beyond to learn new skills. When you see these colleagues slipping into these lazy work patterns, praise them for honing their skills but challenge them to step out of their comfort zone.
- Expectation Setter– Here’s a line you hear at least once a night: “I’m getting over a cold so bear with me.” Before they even sing a note, these karaoke buffs make excuses for what’s about to happen. It’s karaoke! No need to hedge your bets! We all know the one office mate who also has an excuse ready to go at the drop of a hat. Monitor these individuals and when an excuse is made, make sure to test its validity before automatically dismissing it. Maybe they really are “getting over a cold,” or maybe they desperately need some accountability for their actions.
- The Drunk– This singer can’t even follow the words on the screen. They are oblivious to their surroundings and often stumble off the stage before the song is finished. The DJ hates them, the crowd tolerates them, but the bartenders love them. The Drunk is a lot like that one coworker who somehow manages to keep his/her job although everyone hates working with them. They do just enough work to keep from getting kicked out, and everyone knows it. If you’ve got one of these individuals, it’s time to put them on a performance plan. They may not know they have a problem, and if you keep serving them work, they’ll never change.
- Star Performer– Every once in a while, a karaoke bar will be graced by a real entertainer. They may not have the best voice, but they are there for the right reasons. Their performance is fun to watch, sets other performers at ease, and raises the energy level of the entire smoke filled room. In the business world, these are your leaders. They lead not by title, but by action. Make sure you give them space to do their thing and others will take note. These people will be the life blood of your corporate culture as long as you don’t stifle their natural ability.
If you’ve seen any of these people in your workplace, let me know in the comments below. Also, what is your go-to karaoke song?!?
And if you’re ever in the Harrisburg area and want to hit up an incredible karaoke bar, I recommend the Stage on Herr. Maybe I’ll see you there?