We Still Have More In Common Than Not

It never hurts to brush up on labor relations which is why I wanted to point over to a post here from 3/22/2012 titled “What The Other Side Gets Right.” The article is the result of research for a conference panel discussion that involved inviting a cross section of managers, board members, and musicians to answer one of two straightforward questions:

  1. Orchestra musicians were asked “What do you think Boards/Managers get right?”
  2. Board members and managers were asked “What do you think Musicians’ Unions get right?”

Adaptistration People 144Perhaps unsurprisingly, some individuals declined to participate due to high levels of animosity toward their fellow stakeholders. But the majority accepted the challenge and found the exercise to be enlightening.

To this day, I revisit those responses and interview notes whenever I’m feeling particularly dark about labor relations. In many instances, the rationale behind answers serves as an uplifting confidence boost in the real potential for positive labor relations along with underscoring that good relationships rely equally on people and process.

Unfortunately, the original conference panel session ended up having (more than) a few additional panelists stuffed into the already healthy mix and my portion, as closing panelist, ended up with the short end of the stick receiving all of 390 seconds.

All the stakeholders who participated in the survey continue to have my gratitude and the work has turned out to be one of those rare instances where the content is just as relevant now as it was five years prior.

Read What The Other Side Gets Right

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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