Author Topic: Dear Abby: My PM is quitting. Do I want their job?  (Read 1956 times)

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PSMKay

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Dear Abby: My PM is quitting. Do I want their job?
« on: Feb 27, 2014, 05:34 pm »
SMNetwork members who wish to ask questions of the community while remaining fully anonymous are able to use our Dear Abby program. Dear Abby messages are sent to moderators or me via PM. The chosen mod then posts the filtered and anonymized question on their behalf.

Here's one that arrived in my inbox today.

Quote
Dear Abby:

My Production Manager has confided in me that they're looking for work elsewhere. They haven't told anyone else in the office yet, and do not have a new position secured. I'm considering applying for their job if/when they leave.

Here is what worries me:

1. I'm not an AEA member yet. I am building up my resume so I can move toward joining AEA, and a PM position doesn't necessarily help.
2. I'm afraid of PMing taking up all my time and not letting me SM, which doesn't help me go AEA either.
3. I don't know how qualified I am for the job. We do work together a lot, and I know my PM has no formal training in PMing either, but I still worry that my admin experience won't be enough.
4. I don't want to be turned down and have everyone in town shun me as an SM who dared apply for a PM position.

I don't want to jump the gun and "out" my PM as searching for different employment before they tell their bosses, but I also would like to get on their radar before they start asking outside the company for resumes.

My work calendar keeps having holes and a salary and a regular-ish schedule at an office sound absolutely dreamy, but I don't want that to come at the expense of my SM career. But I keep hearing of SMs with day jobs, and why not a theater day job?

Does anyone have experience as a PM-turned-SM or SM-turned-PM? What about other theater jobs - TD, Artistic Director, ME...? Am I going against my best SM interests in considering this?


MatthewShiner

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Re: Dear Abby: My PM is quitting. Do I want their job?
« Reply #1 on: Feb 27, 2014, 07:09 pm »
A lot of SM's go to PMing.  I know and few who go the other way . . . once you have regular pay, regular hours, few will give that up for going back into stage management.

Listen, the jobs are very similar, although you will have a lot more to do with budget, hiring/firing, HR, policy, admin, and long term planning.  And you will loose that daily, front line connection with the work.  There are trade offs.

You have to figure out what you want out of life.

I think having some PM experience might help you SM down the line.

I would not be too worried about being shunned - that seems like an odd thing to be shunned for.  I keep applying for teaching jobs to explore that option, but it doesn't keep me from moving my freelance career forward.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Anything posted here as in my own personal opinion, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of my employer - whomever they be at a given moment in time.

hbelden

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Re: Dear Abby: My PM is quitting. Do I want their job?
« Reply #2 on: Feb 27, 2014, 10:59 pm »
I was hired in a position comparable to PM at a very small company - only four of us on staff.  The Exec. Director put me in charge of hiring SMs and costume/prop "designers" (read: pull the four things we need, or if necessary, build them out of masonite in your living room) but I didn't have any say over the budget or the fees.  It was sold to me as a 20hr/week position, and for the most part, that was true.  While I was in that position, I was also SM for all but two of their shows, so it was more like I was a super-SM than a PM.  And since the resources were "we don't have any" my job was pretty easy.

The thing about being PM - even as a half-time position - is that what you're really doing is becoming the "buck stops here" person.  When things go sideways - and count on it, they will - it's up to you to fix.  For me, that meant helping one of the designers build the frame of his periaktoi until midnight the day before a performance; filling out the insurance paperwork when I scraped a parked car with the tour van; dealing with venue staff who were ultra-protective of their flooring; re-building stock pieces that had fallen apart in storage; and lots of other small hassles.  It's really hard now to separate my feelings about that period between what was due to the job and what was due to the garage-band nature of the organization.
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Heath Belden

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RuthNY

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Re: Dear Abby: My PM is quitting. Do I want their job?
« Reply #3 on: Feb 28, 2014, 09:19 am »
Some quick responses, based on the query below:, in no particular order:

Under no circumstances "out" the current PM by mentioning to anyone that they are looking for work elsewhere. What if their job search takes time? What if they change their mind? Getting yourself "on the radar" with management before notice is given, could backfire on you badly. Watch and wait. If you make a move based on something you were told in confidence, you risk losing the trust of a person who could help you in the future.

And...why is your PM leaving? Is there something about the position they did not like? Better find out. That's information you need before you apply, if you apply.

PMing could make you better SM, in the future, but that's no reason to do it if you don't really want to do the job. As Matthew says, it's very different from being in rehearsal. If you want to be an AEA Stage Manager, then Stage Manage. If you want the security of a paycheck, there are many other roads you can take, not just this one.

If you are the PM, other than in the "part-time" type position hbelden describes, don't PM and SM at the same time. PMimg should take you away from SMing, if you are doing the job properly. In most institutions, it's a full time job. Do one job well. If it does become your day job, you'll have to figure out how you handle conflict of interest, between decisions you have to make as the PM, and the requests you make as the SM on behalf of the Director and the production. If you as the PM say "No" to something that might be too costly, for example, how does that affect your relationship with the director in rehearsal?

Find out more about the job, before you decide if you are qualified or not. There are some things you can learn by doing, and some things you need to really know ahead of time. When you say "yes" to a job, you need to know which elements of the job you know how to do, which elements you can learn on the fly, and which crucial elements might actually make you unqualified for the job, unless you can learn them prior to your interviews. But you don't know until you get a job description, hopefully from the person actually doing the job, not from HR.

And finally, this strange statement about being "shunned..." I'm not even sure what it means, but I can say that if you are worried about what others say, you may not be mature enough to take a PM position. Think long and hard on that. And, if you don't get the job, it's great practice for the rest of your career, where you might hear "no" equally as often, or more, than you hear "yes."

Let us know what you decide.




Quote
Dear Abby:

My Production Manager has confided in me that they're looking for work elsewhere. They haven't told anyone else in the office yet, and do not have a new position secured. I'm considering applying for their job if/when they leave.

Here is what worries me:

1. I'm not an AEA member yet. I am building up my resume so I can move toward joining AEA, and a PM position doesn't necessarily help.
2. I'm afraid of PMing taking up all my time and not letting me SM, which doesn't help me go AEA either.
3. I don't know how qualified I am for the job. We do work together a lot, and I know my PM has no formal training in PMing either, but I still worry that my admin experience won't be enough.
4. I don't want to be turned down and have everyone in town shun me as an SM who dared apply for a PM position.

I don't want to jump the gun and "out" my PM as searching for different employment before they tell their bosses, but I also would like to get on their radar before they start asking outside the company for resumes.

My work calendar keeps having holes and a salary and a regular-ish schedule at an office sound absolutely dreamy, but I don't want that to come at the expense of my SM career. But I keep hearing of SMs with day jobs, and why not a theater day job?

Does anyone have experience as a PM-turned-SM or SM-turned-PM? What about other theater jobs - TD, Artistic Director, ME...? Am I going against my best SM interests in considering this?
[/quote]
"Be fair with others, but then keep after them until they're fair with you."
--Alan Alda

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BARussell

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Re: Dear Abby: My PM is quitting. Do I want their job?
« Reply #4 on: Mar 03, 2014, 03:38 pm »
I switched theatre careers from stage manager to admin but only because it was what I WANTED to do, and it was for all the reasons we all know why someone would stop stage managing. If you don't want to quit SMing don't take a job like this. It might help you learn a few things, but you could also learn  that stuff from observing, asking questions, and reading books, rather than committing to a job.

Quote

My work calendar keeps having holes and a salary and a regular-ish schedule at an office sound absolutely dreamy, but I don't want that to come at the expense of my SM career.


It will come at the expense of your SM career or your PM job, or your current SM gig, or offers you can take, one will have to sacrifice for the other.
"We don't negotiate with weirdos!"

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