How And Why Orchestra Managers Change Jobs Part 2

In Part 1, we examined the reasons why orchestra managers change jobs across all age groups and today’s installment will drill down into these figures via breaking things up by demographics to see if there are any unique trends from one age group to the next.

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

Responses By Age Group

Perhaps unsurprisingly, younger age groups were more likely to change jobs while job stability increased with age.

Top Five Reasons Orchestra Managers Left Their Current Position

25-34 Age Group

  1. Unsatisfied with the work environment and/or culture
  2. Concerned about the lack of opportunities for advancement
  3. Three-way Tie:
    1. Wanted more challenging work
    2. Wanted to work in a different city
    3. Unsatisfied with compensation or benefits

35-44 Age Group

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

45-54 Age Group

  1. Unsatisfied with the work environment and/or culture
  2. Unsatisfied with the rewards and/or recognition of my efforts
  3. Three-way Tie:
    1. Unsatisfied with compensation or benefits
    2. Wanted to word in a different city
    3. Unsatisfied with the leadership of administrative and/or artistic leadership

55+ Age Group

  1. Unsatisfied with the work environment and/or culture
  2. Unsatisfied with the rewards and/or recognition of my efforts
  3. Laid off and/or downsized
  4. Unsatisfied with compensation or benefits
  5. Unsatisfied with the leadership of administrative and/or artistic leadership

Compared to the overall results from Part 1, it is interesting to note that as age increases, workplace acknowledgement plays an increasingly important role in motivating an orchestra manager to seek employment at a new orchestra.

Reasons Orchestra Managers Accepted A New Position

Adaptistration People 021Examining this section by age group did not produce any remarkable differences compared to the cumulative results from Part 1. However, there were some fascinating discoveries when filtering results by age and department.

  • For the 25-34 age group working in development, the overwhelming reason to accept a new position at their current employer was due to it being located in a more desirable city. It would be interesting to learn if this was related more to personal or professional reasons; meaning, was the potential for fundraising in the new city more desirable or were they non-work related considerations. Interestingly enough, every single one of those same respondents indicated Neutral Satisfaction level with the job change decision.
  • Speaking of satisfaction levels at new jobs, compared to other age groups the 25-34 age group produced the lowest average satisfaction levels
    with job changes. Having said that, the majority reported being either very satisfied (11 percent) or satisfied (39 percent) but most indicated neutral satisfaction (44 percent) and a small ratio indicated they were unsatisfied (six percent).
  • The highest satisfaction levels with a new job were among the 45-54 age group. All of the respondents from that group indicated they were either very satisfied (67 percent) or satisfied (33 percent) with their new job.
  • Among Executive Administrators, a positive outlook on the organization’s direction and a clear career path with opportunity were the dominant reasons for accepting a new position.
  • Development professionals were just as likely to have neutral satisfaction levels at a new employer as they were to feel satisfied or very satisfied.
  • The department which produced the highest ratio of unsatisfied and very unsatisfied results came from artistic administration. At the same time, those who weren’t unsatisfied were at least very satisfied with none indicating neutral or satisfied levels. Consequently, changing jobs in this career track ended up being a very good or very bad decision.
  • Those working in operations had mixed success with being satisfied at a new job. You were just as likely to be very unsatisfied and very satisfied (both 20 percent) while satisfied and unsatisfied garnered the same ratios (15 percent each). The remaining 30 percent indicated neutral satisfaction levels.

Departments With Highest Turnover Per Age Group

But What About Musician Respondents?

11 percent of respondents were orchestra musicians and they scored among the higher end of overall satisfaction with a change in employer. 67 percent indicated they were very satisfied, 22 percent were satisfied, and only 11 percent felt neutral about the decision. None of the musician respondents indicated they were unsatisfied at any level with the decision to seek a position at a different orchestra.

Musicians overwhelmingly indicated the primary reason for leaving their previous position was being unsatisfied with the work environment and/or culture (78 percent). Similarly, the number one reason (by far) for accepting a new position was feeling that the new orchestra was a better fit for their skills and interests (72 percent).

The “Others”

Although “other” responses never made it into the Top Five reasons for leaving or accepting a position, they did account for just under 15 percent of all responses. Here are some of the more intriguing replies from respondents who took the time to list their unique reason.

Why I left my position…

Wanted experience in a larger organization; I was looking for mentors / role models in my department that weren’t available at a smaller organization.

Was heavily recruited by new position. I loved my old organization; it was bittersweet.
Note: what’s interesting here is more than half of the “other” responses indicated being actively recruited as a reason for leaving.

Anxiety following stroke and spine injury.

Why I accepted my latest position…

It was an organization with an international reputation.

Better work/life balance.

In the end, the results were both fascinating and enlightening. It is difficult not to see how much the field as a whole would benefit from expanded study; not only would it help reinforce meaningful improvements in workplace satisfaction but it could help institutions marginalize debilitating high attrition levels.

Thanks to everyone who took the time to complete the survey and another big thank you to everyone who pointed out the survey to a colleague. Metrics indicate that a larger than normal ratio of respondents arrived at the survey thanks to an email or social media link and in the end, that’s one of the best dimensions for engagement a blog owner could ask for!

I’m curious to know your thoughts and observations. What do you see in the results?

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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