Posted by: raesalley | August 28, 2006

corporate burnout

Usually when I’ve heard the phrase “corporate burnout” it’s been applied to a guy in his late forties who’s been pulling fifty hour work weeks and looks like he’s been dragged face down through the seven levels of hell. Or something like that. Not to twenty-somethings who have a nice job with kickass benefits and sit in a gorgeous building on a green campus. Yet, I feel like I’m suffering from burnout.

I have an excuse. Kind of. I work in theater which pushes my weekly hours to something closer to fifty-five instead of the forty if I just did my day job. But that’s not what’s driving me crazy. I’ve come to realize that I really have ceased having patience for the insanity that is my day to day existence.

Take Mondays as an example. We start the day with the staff-wide required meeting where we sit around a table, passing a microphone and each staffer (roughly sixty total) rattles off their week’s calendar. Mind you, most of us are meeting with each other half the time and the other half time time it’s with actually industry (business, education, researchers) members or legislators we need to get our work done. For many people, this is good time to hear about what’s going on (like the Winston-Salem wet lab hotel, the Toronto industrial summit, Charlotte Research Institute kick-off), for others it’s a chance to drink coffee uninterrupted or finish the crossword while proving to their superiors that they can show up on time at least one day a week.
This particular Monday was followed by my division group getting together for our once every three week check-in. We go around, talk about what projects are going on or coming up while hammering out problems we’re faced with on a regular basis. It’s meetings like that which got me the responsibility of the company database, hammered out the need for topic briefing books and really illustrate some of the quirky behavior of different things in the building. Like our personal objectives – which will be on a template…but should not look like the unit objectives – which are derived from the strategic & programatic objectives of the Center…which, by the way, are different than the 52 objectives of the state plan for the industry (that we co-wrote). Every year, I think we waste a month per person of time creating and measuring objectives, leaving only eleven months to actually accomplish anything.
The rest of the day (and week) degenerate into me trying to accomplish the twenty or so things I should do reconciled against the five things I must do and the ability to respond and assist external clients or internal demands on my time. And because I work in the library, I best accomplish all of them quickly, accurately and preferably with a smile. I don’t think I can do that any more.

I’ve used this organization often for my masters classes – mainly examples of how an organization should not operate. It is astounding the number of odd little quirks and ways we duplicate work, make things more complicated and hoard information within a sixty member organization. And honestly, I just don’t think I can do this any more with a smile on my face.

I’ve been looking for a job in the arts industry again. It has been something I’ve been doing since I moved here and got somewhat stable in my life. Of late, it’s taken on a more necessary edge. While I understand that there will always be a point where I’m sick to death of doing whatever it is I’m currently entrapped in…I have yet to hit that point within a three month period – which is usually longer than the usual production length. I know that if I’m in the management end of a production company that I will be less likely to be working on the day to day aspects of everything and more on the global view…but at least the problems and solutions would change frequently.

And that’s what I miss. Here, the questions change, the industry pieces vary…but the answers often are the same. As are the problems to getting that answer. Opening a new office is challenging, but it’s the same procedure as the other four…just with different color pieces. With theater, the goal is the same each time (successful production) and even some of the processes are the same (hire actors, director, designers, staff…rehearse, meet, build, tech) but what happens in each case changes.

I need to get out. Badly. I wouldn’t mind relocating … as long as you realize I come with a husband and four cats. So I toss this out to the world – I’m looking for a position in theater management. I want to work on the production end. I have experience and knowledge to back up my abilities. I learn quickly and adapt well. I’m interested in new environments and not always doing the same thing. I want my job to have a meaning again, to say that I’m accomplishing something, preferably something that entertains and makes one think – even if briefly.

Bonus points if I can wear blue jeans on the job.

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