So How Do You Really Feel?

Lock up the liquor, hide the kids, and brace yourselves as conductor Bill Eddins has something to share on the painful subject of cutting staff. In particular, Eddins directs his in-case-you-miss-the-point-easily-let-me-make-it-painfully-clear pointed commentary squarely at those shouldering the task of deciding which employees stay and which go. His advice is not only well timed but could serve as a chapter in the Orchestra Management for Dummies book (wait, that doesn’t exist yet)…

rampageDo read the entire article but for those of you who only process information in list format, here is what you need to know:

  1. Remember that many of these people have dedicated large chunks of their life to make the institution a better place.
  2. Have a little compassion.
  3. Don’t refer to the orchestra organization as “The Company.” (love this one)
  4. Don’t schmuck out and use the opportunity to get rid of employees that make you do your job.
  5. Cut the corporate jargon.
  6. Avoid antiseptic language that makes it seem like deciding who to fire was beyond your control.
  7. Don’t cancel passwords and shut off phone extensions while the person is in your office getting sacked.
  8. No marching people out under HR (or worse, security) escort.
  9. Don’t fire people by reading an HR script.
  10. “…have the good grace to look in a mirror and ask yourself whether or not the first person who should be fired is YOU!” (my personal favorite!)

    For those of you out there who think your job might be in peril, you might want to stop by and read something I posted back in October, 2007 about how to go about translating the writing on the wall entitled You Can’t Fire Me, I Quit!.

    About Drew McManus

    "I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

    I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

    In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

    For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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