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Crew Chief People Skills

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by LordOfTheTechies, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. LordOfTheTechies

    LordOfTheTechies Member

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    At our non-profit theatre, I am very often the crew chief for the larger shows. My crew is limited to first-time techs and people who didn't make it in the show and just want to hang out backstage. I have to take who I am given, I can't pick and choose and I can't kick someone out without a dang good reason. I am having a hard time getting things done without sounding like a b*itch. I try to be strict but not rude, but I just can't get anything done. When I enforce the most basic rules such as no talking backstage during a show, or pay attention to whats going on onstage during a show, they act like I'm being unreasonable. When I have let them know in no uncertain terms that I mean business, things have gotten done, but my crew hated me. I am not the b*tchy type at all, nor do I want to be. Any advice on how to get my crew to work with me and not against me? Help!!
     
  2. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    How old are you and how old are they? Also, what are you doing to instill "ownership" in the show?
     
  3. LordOfTheTechies

    LordOfTheTechies Member

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    I am 18, they are between 15 and 20. Instill ownership?
     
  4. jessamarie6

    jessamarie6 Member

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    Kyle's right, instill ownership is the perfect term. You need to own your position. Especially if the people on your crew are as inexperienced as you say. If you go in "owning" your position on the show, acting like you belong there, acting like a leader, people will accept you as a leader.
    Also, to establish yourself as a leader, you need to lead. You need to talk to you crew early in the process, help them to understand what their role is in the show, why they are important, and what you will expect from them during the run. Try to find jobs that fit the people on your crew, work with their strengths and interests. Help them to "own" the show too. They should feel like if the show went well it was partially because of them. Who knows you may find your next awesome tech waiting to be discovered.
     
  5. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    People don't like working for the man. People want to feel like they are apart of the product, and without them the product can not be made. Rather it true or not, you have to get them want to be there. This is by far the hardest thing to do when leading.

    What I do to make this happen is demonstrate something to my students, then make them do it. Later, I go back and pull up what I taught them before and add to it. This helps them make connections and see the bigger picture. After that, the real fun starts..... You have to let go. Give them a project that is theres. It can be anything from having one guy be in charge of one prop, where that prop is his life. He fixes the prop, builds the prop, and runs the prop during the show. I guarantee that that prop will be exactly where it needs to be and in working order every night. The only way to really get people to work is to get them to take a stake in what they are doing. Its tough, but its the only way.

    You have to take a step back, let them make mistakes, and let them be apart of the action.
     
  6. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    If it makes you feel any better, LordOfTheTechies (and it probably won't), you are not alone. I work with some of the highest hourly paid stagehands in the country and face the exact same issues as you. And mine, for the majority, are not even theatre folk, just people who somehow wandered into this industry. They certainly want to be there, especially if on overtime, but getting them to actually work, focus on the task at hand, and not socialize, is a constant struggle.:(
     
  7. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    Thats a whole other can of worms, this is why salaried positions exists... it just sucks to be one.

    So... this brings up the question, how many stagehands does it take to change a lamp?.......
     
  8. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    Why can't I get away from this?!?!? That is what we in the educational world call scaffolding, I can't go a week without hearing it in my education classes. It's great. It's the best way to teach.

    I would also agree with those who said try to instill ownership. But something else to consider is that if you are in charge, it's your job to make it happen. And if you have to do that, sometimes you have to be a b****, and you hate to do it, but some people need to be kicked in the... erm, seat of their pants to get going.

    Something I've found helpful is to let people pick the job that they are going to do rather than it being assigned to them. That way they get the choice of what they are going to do. Take a bit of time to go through everything that needs to be done in front of everyone so they know what will be involved in their job choice.

    Finally, don't forget to say thank you! People work a lot harder and much better when they feel appreciated, whether they are on a payroll or not. Give credit where credit is due.

    I'm curious, is this an educational setting or a community theatre setting?
     
  9. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I have been doing this for years. I have to take this "new teacher" class thing that meets once a month during the day, and they talked about this. All the new teachers, all of which had degrees in teaching, were asking all kinds of questions. I was asking myself how they had not figured this one out themselves. Then I realized who I was dealing with.
     
  10. lieperjp

    lieperjp Well-Known Member

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    At the risk of getting off topic, (with a senior team member :!:) That was the very first thing we were taught to think about. Creating a "knowledge base" and then continuing to build upon it. I guess it's odd for me as I go to a college that is mostly teachers, so all of the professors have a minimum of a Masters in Education with years of classroom experience, most have Doctorates or multiple Masters in varying aspects of education. People in the New Ulm Area can enroll their children in our Early Childhood Education Center, where students go to student teach and get experience related to liscensure, and that center is headed by two teachers with doctorates in Early Childhood Education. Talk about qualified Day Care Providers!

    Now getting back on topic... :twisted:
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2009
  11. Footer

    Footer Senior Team Senior Team Premium Member

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    I don't think this is really that off topic. In order to lead, you have to be able to teach. If someone really understands something they will want to do it, if they have no clue how something works, odds are they won't really care about why it is that way. This is a business where if you are in charge, you are teaching, no matter what level. To be a good leader, you must be a good teacher. Teaching skills is something that I think we need to discuss more around here. I personally have the "I'll just go do it" problem, and fight it every day. In order to get rid of that complex you have to teach someone else how to do what you already know how to do, so they can do it.
     

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