How And Why Orchestra Managers Change Jobs Part 1

Adaptistration People 023It should come as no surprise to learn that attrition rates for orchestra managers are high but does that mean those moving to new jobs find what they’re looking for?

That was the basis for a survey designed to learn more about what influenced the decision to change jobs and how satisfied individuals were following the change.

The survey produced 523 responses and here is what we learned about why and how these individuals changed jobs.

Top Five Reasons Orchestra Managers Left Their Current Position: All Age Groups

  1. Unsatisfied with the work environment and/or culture
  2. Concerned about the lack of opportunities for advancement
  3. Unsatisfied with the leadership of administrative and/or artistic leadership
  4. Wanted more challenging work
  5. Unsatisfied with compensation and/or benefits

What’s genuinely fascinating here is even though nonprofit arts administration routinely pays lower wages and offers poorer benefits packages than for profit peers, those items weren’t among the most pressing motivating factors. If nothing else, these results support what we’ve been espousing here for some time that workplace satisfaction plays a much stronger role in helping an organization maximize its administrative potential than the field currently acknowledges.

Takeaway: Organizations that begin taking workplace satisfaction seriously will have a competitive advantage within the field.

Top Five Reasons Orchestra Managers Accepted A New Position: All Age Groups

  1. Stronger career path and/or more opportunity
  2. Tie: Better compensation and/or benefits & More Challenging Work
  3. I believed in the organization’s overall direction
  4. Better fit for my skills and interests
  5. More desirable city

Although compensation and benefits ranked lower in reasons that inspired leaving a position, they did score higher on reasons for accepting a new position.

Takeaway: Although money isn’t the main reason orchestra managers changed jobs new employers should be prepared to pay more to bring new people on board. Likewise, offering career growth as opposed to simply another job can help offset or even marginalize those expenses.

Top Five Departments With Highest Turnover: All Age Groups

  1. Executive Administration
  2. Development
  3. Tie: Artistic Administration & Operations
  4. Marketing
  5. Education and Community Outreach

It’s worth noting that the Executive Administration department accounted for nearly 40 percent of all responses.

Takeaway: Executive recruitment will continue to be a challenge across the entire field while executives that produce quantifiable results will be in a strong position to maximize compensation and benefits.

Was It Worth It? All Age Groups

With more than two-thirds of respondents indicating their job change is producing positive results, it seems that for the time being, the grass is greener for those seeking new positions.

Tomorrow’s installment will drill down into these figures via breaking things up by demographic along with taking a look at the musician responses. We’ll see if any similarities or differences exist between Millennials, Gen Y, Gen X, and Baby Boomers (spoiler alert: yes).

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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