Author Topic: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.  (Read 5149 times)

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jerseySM

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Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« on: Jun 29, 2009, 11:16 pm »
My boss is limiting me to only paperwork jobs, long after I have proven myself, and I just really am at a loss for what to do.

I am currently working on a couple shows as a paperwork person. I had the same two jobs last summer, and all I do is I simply attach myself to a copier for a week and a half and a chair for the other 3.5 weeks (doing nothing other than sitting) and I must stay in the building quite literally all day. I have no problem with what I do, but I REALLY want to do more. My boss is under the impression that I do so much more than I really do, and no matter how many times I explain that I essentially do not do anything for the production, he does not seem to understand. He also feels that this should be a valuable experience, but I am not learning anything and I don't even feel like I am doing theatre.

The main reason why my boss keeps me in this paperwork rut is because when I originally began working for him over three years ago, no one else wanted to do paper stuff. Since then, I have proved my stage management (non-paperwork) skills and my boss definitely does not have a problem trusting me with stage managing, since I have done it for him before. But I was always known for my paperwork, which isn't bad, it just has my boss forget that I can do anything else.

BUT I have a small window of opportunity. One of the productions has only one stage manager for a big musical. I am in the process of planning a talk with my boss about trying to get me on the stage management team. (I already spoke to the SM and she is on board.) I only get one shot at convincing him and other than the reasons stated above, I do not know what else to say or prove. It may seem like I have convincing points, but I have had one other discussion like this with him and I failed at making him understand the situation (these reasons and more included).

So, I am posting this because I need to know how I can get my boss to let me leave this "paperwork person" rut! I simply cannot afford to waste an entire summer making copies. Please help!

Thank you in advance. :-)


bethanyb5

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #1 on: Jun 30, 2009, 02:15 pm »
In my opinion no one can limit you but yourself. If you are given something to do and finish it don't sit and wait for someone come and give you something else to do. That is a big part of SMing. being proactive, seeing what needs to be done and doing it. Many PSM's are looking for people who will do what needs to be done with out being told to do. Also in the rush of needing to get things done it's easier to do it yourself then ask someone to do it for you.

I could have miss understood what you said but from what I gathered this is my advice.

MarcieA

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #2 on: Jun 30, 2009, 03:43 pm »
I think that your best course of action is to be as blunt, but as respectful as possible.

Tell him exactly what is lacking for you as a SM in your current role, and that as such, you would like the opportunity to grow as a stage manager and this SM role would be the ideal opportunity to do so.

Part of getting your point across is being able to stand your ground. Don't let him brush you off, and if he has reasons for not giving you this job, ask why. You're entitled to a reason.
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maximillionx

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #3 on: Jun 30, 2009, 04:06 pm »
I think that your best course of action is to be as blunt, but as respectful as possible.

Tell him exactly what is lacking for you as a SM in your current role, and that as such, you would like the opportunity to grow as a stage manager and this SM role would be the ideal opportunity to do so.

Part of getting your point across is being able to stand your ground. Don't let him brush you off, and if he has reasons for not giving you this job, ask why. You're entitled to a reason.

I agree. What position is your boss? Artistic Director? Producer? Fellow SM?

Be honest and tell them what you told us. Your at this job to learn and grow and if your boss won't let you on another SM team, ask him/her for something else to do.  Get onto properties, sets, lights, costumes, something to occupy your time.

Good luck!

hbelden

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #4 on: Jun 30, 2009, 05:05 pm »
Good advice from all, particularly if your current job is assisting the stage manager in some direct way.  But I'm not sure from your original post if it is.  Since you say you want to "get on the stage management team" for a musical, is the job you're currently on something like an office assistant?  Are you in rehearsal at all, or are you in the artistic office?  I guess my question is, who is forcing you to do this job you don't like? 

If you don't like the job you're in, apply for the job you want - whether it's at this particular company or a completely different company.  But the employer obviously isn't obligated to hire you for a different position, and you obviously aren't obligated to keep the 'paperwork' job if you don't want it. 

In any interview, you're ultimately on your own.  Know before you go in what you want and what you'll accept, and be prepared to walk away from an offer if it doesn't meet your needs.
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jerseySM

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #5 on: Jun 30, 2009, 09:31 pm »
Hi. Thank you for all of the advice. Some of you have asked questions on clarifying my situation.

1. My boss is both the director and producer.
2. I did apply for the stage management position and was under the impression from February until mid-April that I had it.
3. I am not on the stage management team. I stay in the office and I am called production manager, but I clearly do not do that position. I am not allowed to attend rehearsals unless in the cast, artistic staff, or stage management team.
4. I do work ahead of the game (to clarify). Everyone I work with is constantly telling me how amazed they are at how on top of the game I am, so they know that I know what I am doing.
5. I do not assist the stage manager. I assist the director by making copies.
6. This is not an interview I plan to have, per say. It's more of a "can we sit down for a minute and talk" high tension thing. It also looks like the stage manager will be there (I requested it as such so that anything I am attacked with, I can defend myself and so she knows that my objective is not to kick her off the team.)

I have enough things to do to work during the day tomorrow but at night I begin the point in the program where I will not be doing anything. (Just as an update.)

I do truly thank you for your advice and I hope that with these clarifications, it can help target this advice even more.

 ;D

hbelden

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #6 on: Jun 30, 2009, 10:04 pm »
Wow, lots of stuff there, jerseySM.  Thanks for all the additional information. 

With regards to your 2., what gave you the impression that you had the SM position?  Was that job then given to a different person?

It's good that you know what you're doing.  I don't think that earlier commenters questioned that.  I think the advice was assuming that you were in the rehearsal hall and could see for yourself that something needed doing even if it wasn't your "job" so to speak.

Finally, it may not be an "interview" in the sense of responding to a job posting, but it clearly is an interview in the sense that you want a particular job, and you should comport yourself as such.

A couple other questions occur to me as I read your response.  Why is the meeting high-tension?  Why do you think you are going to be attacked?  Why might the stage manager think you are trying to take her job?  In short, do you want a position that already exists and is going to be filled by someone, or are you trying to create an ASM position for yourself that this theatre doesn't usually do?

What is the worst that can happen (and is the worst really all that bad)?
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jerseySM

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #7 on: Jun 30, 2009, 11:29 pm »
Hello again. More clarification.

It was understood that I had the position because after I applied for it, my boss e-mailed me back saying that he would love to have me for the job. After a friend tipped me off, I called and asked. I found out another person was SM. Later it changed to a second person.

I consider it high-tension because in the last meeting on a similar topic was with both my current boss and the person who is the current SM, and it did not work out well at all. To make a long story short, after any private meeting between me and the SM about understanding that no one is after each other's job, the second we leave that room, the situation is flipped around when she speaks to every one. Regardless of how many times we clarify our perspectives at our meeting. (It's a very abbreviated version of a long story.)

For the position itself, extremely long story short, I really want to co-stage manage, which we have done before (PSM, SM, ASM), especially since it's proven that she can't do it alone (simply because she can't be two places at once). We are practically equal in experience in stage management.

I really don't mean for this to sound like just a random complaint, and once again, I do appreciate everyone helping me. ;D

MarcieA

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #8 on: Jun 30, 2009, 11:48 pm »
Hello again. More clarification.

It was understood that I had the position because after I applied for it, my boss e-mailed me back saying that he would love to have me for the job. After a friend tipped me off, I called and asked. I found out another person was SM. Later it changed to a second person.

I consider it high-tension because in the last meeting on a similar topic was with both my current boss and the person who is the current SM, and it did not work out well at all. To make a long story short, after any private meeting between me and the SM about understanding that no one is after each other's job, the second we leave that room, the situation is flipped around when she speaks to every one. Regardless of how many times we clarify our perspectives at our meeting. (It's a very abbreviated version of a long story.)

Can I just ask a silly question? Why do you want to work for these people so badly if this is how they treat not only you, but what seems to be all of the people that work for them?!

This is a lesson that took me a while to learn. There are some things and some people that you are just better than. It's not necessarily an insult to them, but more of an understanding of your own self worth.
Companions whom I loved and still love, tell them my song.

hbelden

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #9 on: Jul 01, 2009, 12:00 am »
Can I just ask a silly question? Why do you want to work for these people so badly if this is how they treat not only you, but what seems to be all of the people that work for them?!

My question exactly.  Work with people who want you and who are clear in their job descriptions.  If this theatre doesn't have payroll for two stage managers on one show, your upcoming meeting isn't going to change that.  If the stage manager thinks you're trying to horn in on her turf, this meeting isn't going to change that.  So before you go into it, know exactly what you're asking for and what your current job is worth to you.
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jerseySM

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #10 on: Jul 01, 2009, 12:23 am »

Can I just ask a silly question? Why do you want to work for these people so badly if this is how they treat not only you, but what seems to be all of the people that work for them?!

This is a lesson that took me a while to learn. There are some things and some people that you are just better than. It's not necessarily an insult to them, but more of an understanding of your own self worth.

It honestly is not a silly question, and I have truly asked it many times as well. Without giving too many details, the reason for me coming back in the first place is more of a "they need us more than we need them" type of situation, and I did not want the shows to be at a disadvantage. Of course, this reason does not matter at this point. But I have definitely decided this is my last job with this company.

I think I'm still in the process of figuring out how to, as you say, (and I can't really put it any better), "understand my own self worth." I think it is just hard because I know that in the eyes of the professional world, I am a beginner and I do need to climb the ladder by doing jobs that no one else wants to do -- like paperwork (unless I've got this completely wrong, and if so, please tell me.)

Again, Thank you all for your advice!

KMC

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #11 on: Jul 01, 2009, 09:17 am »
I think I'm still in the process of figuring out how to, as you say, (and I can't really put it any better), "understand my own self worth." I think it is just hard because I know that in the eyes of the professional world, I am a beginner and I do need to climb the ladder by doing jobs that no one else wants to do -- like paperwork (unless I've got this completely wrong, and if so, please tell me.)

My advice, from my personal experiences, is to never settle (this is a bit of an idealist mindset as we all have bills to pay, however it's something I strive for always).  If you know you are capable of doing more, pursue it.  Relentlessly.  When you've reached your goal, set a new goal that is higher and pursue that, relentlessly.  That can be within your organization now or you can begin a relationship with another company.  Try to shift yourself from the mindset not of "I'd like to Stage Manage" to "I will Stage Manage", for example.  I am relatively young as well (25) and for the first few years of my career dealt with, as we all do, the age stigma - still dealing with it now in some ways.  I probably dealt with it a little more than most given the jobs I've held early in my career.  As I was graduating from college I was in the job hunt.  I was offered a PA position, explained to the company I was thankful for the offer and flattered they thought of me enough to offer me a position, but that I was looking for more than a PA position.  *Blasphemy!* many will say.  Bull, I say.  A week later I was offered a full time SM job managing a company of ~60 people.  The point is, I knew I was capable of SMing and wasn't going to settle for less unless it was an absolute last resort.

It's all about mindset and positioning yourself mentally.  Be flexible within your goals so you're able to take a wider range of opportunities, but keep your sights set on what you want and don't let yourself fall into a rut or a mindset of contentedness. 

Sorry if this whole post sounds like I'm one a motivational speaker or something, but trying to stress my main point, which is you can't wait for an opportunity to present itself.  YOU must find the opportunities, and always be ready. 

You're on the right track and your posts read as if some of these thoughts are evolving in your head at this moment.  Most importantly, don't be discouraged.
Get action. Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action. -T. Roosevelt

bethanyb5

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #12 on: Jul 01, 2009, 10:27 am »
Thanks for clarifying things a little better.
Some of my thoughts are this.
you said that you understood that you had the SM position. you will get this feeling a lot starting out in this biz. Its never yours until either its in writing or its done and you actually did it. People's minds change all the time.

I am not sure what your qualifactions are as far as SMing goes. Education and experience factor into the position. and Maybe your boss feels you are not qualified enough. Maybe you can suggest that some SM work be worked into your schedule maybe one day a week in rehearsal. If you do have plently of qualifications then if they aren't inclined to give you the SM position begin to look else where.

loebtmc

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #13 on: Jul 01, 2009, 12:04 pm »
Lots of good advice here - definitely take action, initiate a discussion, and make your perspective clear, focused and positive - keeping in mind  that being a PA and working your way up is a good thing; you can learn a lot from seeing how other people work in similar circumstances and (kmc307 aside) most of us can find great value in not being in charge right off the bat cuz (having trained a lot of "fresh outta school folks") there are many, many things they don't /can't teach you in college -

AND paperwork is a good thing on certain levels. Since SM training was learning on the job when I started, I found that running other people's copies was a great way to see how they took notes, what was left off, how to encourage reading between the lines for delicate issues - as well as why certain departments preferred one-sided or two-sided copies, etc, so now, when I stand there making my own copies (cuz, for many smaller companies, I too often have to stand at the altar of xerox) I can anticipate our needs accurately.

BUT I want to add one note to the mix, and that is attitude. HOW do you make copies? And I don't mean how do you lay the paper and hit the button, I mean what do you do while you stand there. Do you use the time to understand what you're copying and why? Do you chat up the assistant, the secretaries, the office staff (all of whom are valuable support to your career and often have great inside info that can help you take the next step). Do you do it before being asked, always with a smile and a winning attitude - not servile, but as an equal team member, an example of how capable and willing you are to help accomplish the shared goal? Do you take initiative when you think of something that might support the team? Regardless of how they percieve you now, if you do it because (to borrow a phrase) there are no small tasks, only small productions, and in theater everyone is equal and equally important, you can alter their perception to see you as an equal, an adult and someone who deserves a chance. It sound silly I know, but it's true - your attitude can make all the difference.

I totally get that you don't want to be the admin asst, and I totally get that they may not be ready to move you up (whether it's limited help or limited vision on their part) but a willingness doing whatever, fully and with a good attitude, can go a long way when you are trying to break in.

jerseySM

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Re: Forced to be stuck in a rut. Please help.
« Reply #14 on: Jul 02, 2009, 07:58 am »
Thank you all very much for your advice. I never expected so many responses.

To finish this crazy topic, I wanted to say that I had my meeting with my boss and the stage manager, and it all worked out for all of us. The meeting also was a lot faster than I expected so I only had to explain that why I want these responsibilities is to gain experience in those areas of stage management.

Thank you all again!  ;D Have a great weekend.

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