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Submitted by robby.elliott@m... on


I have copied an email that, after I removed the names I received a couple of days ago and I honestly don't know howto respond. I was wondering if you all could give me some advice. :)

A little bit of background: I work at the Performing arts center with 4 theater and, over the course of 10 year, we have gone from hosting/producing 600 events per year to about 1,200.00 I have a full time staff of 7 and, due to volume, we are in the process of hiring 6 more technicians in various areas. I am the Supervisor of the department and I have 2 Technical Directors that oversee the show advancement, scheduling and facilitation. We are moving to a model where our existing personnel (1 from each department: lighting, audio, carpentry & video) would be the overall supervisor the the new people coming on board. The Master Lighting Technician (this individual) would be responsible for the processes and procedures of their department as well as the mentoring and training of the 4 lighting technicians (1 for each theater). He is a direct of one of the Technical Directors (a direct of my direct).

Hopefully that makes sense to everyone. Here is the email:

Hey Robby. I would like to schedule a time to sit with you and discuss the possibility of having me 100% removed from the lighting position I'm in at Performing Arts Center and all of the duties that come along with it and possibly moving to work under "Technical Director" babysitting shows in the smaller spaces.

I feel I have worked extremely hard throughout my years to learn and gain experience doing what I do, made many family sacrifices to take gigs and even pay for my own expenses to be a part of large productions without pay just so I can gain more knowledge, I don't think I am prepared to "mentor" or pass what I know down to someone else so that they can do what I want to be doing and what I love to do.

This is extremely hard for me because I love what I do and have a lot of passion for what I do but I believe that where I see myself/what I originally signed up for when I took this job and the direction of the Performing Arts Center is going are very different directions and I find myself trying to figure out where I best fit at this point.

Let me know when it might be a good time to sit and talk about it.

How would you guys handle the meeting? Me, being a HIGH HIGH D (99%) wants to say "this is what your job is and it hasn't really changed" but I am sort of flabbergasted by the fact that he doesn't want to share his knowledge with people underneath him for fear that they will, one day in the future, take his job.

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated.

pucciot's picture
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I have had a fleeting experience doing tech at two large professional theaters, so I may have a basic idea about your environment.

From what you have said it looks like this person is one of your Skip directs. Right.

Ask his supervisor what he knows about this. Perhaps they are not getting along. And the issue is really about the supervisor.

This sounds like there is much more on this person's plate right now that he needs to air out.

I suspect (only a guess) that he may have had some recent changes at home. New significant other or child added to the household.
He sounds like he is restless and wants a change. He may be being encouraged to grow and get more experience and money.

Right now you should at least listen to his concerns in person. Let him know that you do not plan on making any changes right now, but that you are willing to listen.

Obviously, he knows this is his job and he can't make any changes without your approval. You don't need to remind him of that.

Here are a few questions for you to ask yourself :

Do you know what he means about "not what he signed up for " ?

Why has he made extra sacrifices for his family (beyond what is expected for this kind of job) ?
Why has he paid for things out of his own pocket ?
Were these demands from his supervisor ? Were they reasonable requests ?

Obviously, this guy wants a change.

He sounds like he feels "stuck".
What can you accommodate for him ? Can he trade places occasionally with someone else that works in the other theaters ?
Is there someone else like him that wants to try new things ?

* And then there is the red flag about him not wanting to train or mentor someone.
Well, my advice to you is not mention it. Let it go for now. Don't bring it up yet.

If he brings it up, you can make a calm and clear statement that any accommodation that you may make for him in the future will be contingent upon is cooperation in training someone else to do what he is doing.

If, or when, you (as the Organization) decide to make an accommodation for him and his personal needs and personal requests, that he will need to take into account the organization's needs.
That he will need to make an accommodation of his own, by training and mentoring somebody else to do his job.

I suggest that you allow him the time to speak with you and air out all of his concerns. Just let him know that for know you are just listening and will get back to him if you think that any changes can be made.

Smile , be calm, and schedule a 2nd meeting.
You need not make any response or commitments yet.

Good Luck

TJPuccio's picture
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Thanks, it is pretty much what I had plan and I will reassess after the 1st meeting.

He is a skip but it is a little bit of an abnormal situation in that there is his direct supervisor and then the manager on duty which can fluctuate. Also his supervisor is new and younger and all that jazz.

Thanks again!