If You’re An Arts Org Executive, You’ll Want To Read This

Adaptistration People 061

Make no mistake, it’s wonderful to see a staffer or manager nominate his/her executive; in fact, the panel ended up selecting two very deserving executives as recipients.

Having said that, it was difficult not to feel somewhat dismayed when there wasn’t a single executive who felt compelled to nominate an employee’s creative and successful project.

Ideally, the 2017 program will see a healthy mix of submissions but until then, I want to challenge every executive who reads this blog to take a moment and think about the ways you recognize your employees.

Expressing appreciation for what they do and recognizing achievements inside the office are good things to do, but they tend to be low hanging fruit and ultimately, words only go so far. Clearly, there’s no doubt that employees appreciate having their accomplishments recognized by way of salary and wage improvements.

But one of the most overlooked opportunities involves something like the Most Creative People In Arts Administration program where simply submitting a nomination can mean as much if not more to the employee than any associated award.

Simply put, it’s one thing to express appreciation inside the office but something entirely different to direct those sentiments outward.

Just in case there’s any confusion, this post isn’t meant to beat-up on executives. On the contrary, being a nonprofit performing arts executive is anything but a cakewalk. There are no shortages of pressures and problems but the very best executives tend to go out of their way to boost their employees up into the limelight.

In the end, it is all too easy for executives to get overwhelmed by day to day pressures and miss occasions to acknowledge employee accomplishments. The best way to avoid that bear trap is taking advantage of every opportunity that comes along and become a master of maximizing external recognition.

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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