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scheduling assistants... or how can I get my life back?

Discussion in 'Stage Management and Facility Operations' started by jongaduet, Apr 23, 2009.

  1. jongaduet

    jongaduet Member

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    Location:
    columbia missouri
    Anybody out there have any advice on how TD's schedule their assistants in busy theaters where amateur one off shows needs sometimes aren't known until the day of?

    I usually find out if I have to work tomorrow today. This sucks... this means that I can't actually schedule anything for my private life just in case little Billy needs some one to hold his hand as he walks out onstage for his big first grade droolfest piano recital.

    At my theater I play the "Assistant to the Technical Director" role. Some days I program the lightboard, some days I project video or 35, some days I run the sound board, some days I pull rope and load weight. Some days I set up shell and music stands and act real nice to our guests. If there's no shows going on, I clean up our shop which is perpetually trashed from the volume of shows that we do (approx. 15 a month) and the lack of staff (me and TD) that we have...

    I have recently been told that I am not to work over 40 hours a week due to overtime costs. Since then i have worked overtime each week, because there isn't anybody else around. And apparently we can't hire anyone else because it would be too expensive (more expensive than my over time?).

    The deal is that...

    My TD refuses to schedule me. So I'm left in this weird place where I don't know when I'm supposed to work and when I'm not. I understand that he isn't always able to predict when exactly I will be needed, but he works 60+ hours a week. So how am I supposed to balance it all out? Say Friday rolls around and we have a big show on Saturday and I already have 37 hours for the week, am I supposed to come in for 3 hours setup and leave my TD hangin come show time? I don't wanna do that because I don't wanna let my boss/friend down, but on the other hand I have my own life to live outside of the theater (imagine that?!?!?!).

    All I'm askin for is to know whether or not I can go play in my softball league this monday night...and I can't get an answer...

    Thank y'alls for the room to rant, any advice, and for the site. I lurk around quite a bit. Love this place. Hope this post isn't too rambling...
     
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2009
  2. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    Here's your schedule (I wish I could work this event.:rolleyes:). Plan on working every day there is an event listed, and if it's a big event, the prior day also. If no event listed, you can be relatively certain you'll be available for non-work activities weekday nights. Arrange your schedule to take days off when there is no event scheduled. If no one will prepare a schedule for you, do it yourself, make it work to your advantage, and post it in a conspicuous place. Problem solved.

    How is your job-status classified: full-time, full-time flex, part-time, steady-extra, or on-call/extra-board?
     
  3. beachcombah15

    beachcombah15 Member

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    Location:
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    I can kind of relate to where you are coming from. At my school, alot of event needs etc aren't mentioned to me until the day of. Or at least thats how it used to work. I've set up a tech. club at my school and a calendar where people can write in dates to reserve the facility/what they need etc. (back to your problem)-

    Since your Td is also your friend as you say, I would suggest sitting down with him so that you two as a production staff can come to an agreement about how you can work out a schedule between each other so that all the bases remain covered. Maybe not a concrete schedule but somewhat of an understanding of when you or him NEED to be there. Many will agree when I say that communication is really hard to go wrong with.

    Moreover, Is it possible for your guys to train volunteers? Being a high school student myself, I know that there are always high school students looking to gain community service hours. I was able to build up a trained staff of students within the club I created at school who have a basic knowledge of the different elements of our theatre. Many hands make easy work.

    as Derek beats me to the punch
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2009
  4. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    They are taking advantage of you because you let them. Speak with your supervisor privately. But remember, if you get forced into a corner you should be prepared to either leave for good or get pushed out by them. Not saying it will happen, but it could.

    As for the overtime thing, yes, it's cheaper to pay you 1.5 times than hire someone else. Especially if there are benefits involved. They don't pay benefits on your overtime.
     
  5. jongaduet

    jongaduet Member

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    I am full time non-exempt, which basically means they have to pay me overtime.
     
  6. Chris Chapman

    Chris Chapman Active Member

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    Occupation:
    Technical Director
    Location:
    Greenville, Michigan, United States
    I have an assistant that gets a similar kind of workload like you. The way we try to deal with scheduling is every 2 weeks we look at the upcoming event schedule and divide up the calls. Your TD really should know what the requirements of the different gigs are in a two week lead-time window. I prefer to do a one month window, but lately we've gotten a little sloppy in our scheduling and it has turned around and bitten me. As the TD and the guy who is salaried, I expect to take up that slack. I try to schedule my assistant on the times that I KNOW I can't make it due to family issues. (Getting my kids to day-care, etc.)

    There are SOME gigs where the clients can be clue-less and not very communicative, but you can feel them out in advance or as the schedule proceeds based on their level of communication. I try hard to advance every rental to make sure we are covered.

    My assistant has a locked off budget for the year, and I manage his hours to make sure I can get through the year with regular hours and balancing OT.

    You and your TD need to have a sit-down about scheduling. Otherwise he may end up without an Assistant. (Don't use it as a threat though...)
     

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