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I love my job but thinking of packing it in because of the stress of it

(46 Posts)
Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 08:27:03

I wasn't going to post this but anyway.

I seem to have endless problems with the people I work with and so I have to look hard at myself and think...is it me?

I work in an arts centre and run the educational side of it as an independent educational charity. I am good at my job and have really turned things around from being a struggling enterprise with almost no funding to a thriving, respected organisation with core local govt funding and other grants etc. I am proud of that. The gallery at the arts centre is run by a different organisation and here is the problem. Two people from that organisation have recently absolutely lost it with me. Accusations have been that I am negative, unsupportive and I say things in meetings that make their lives much more difficult.

I am knackered atm after finishing a big project and am quite willing to believe that my 'aura' or whatever you call it is tired and I seem uninterested in taking on new big projects. I do deal with problems in quite a subjective, professional way and I think it is this which is annoying and upsetting them.

I dont really know why I have typed all this, prob just to get it off my chest and to try and make things clearer. The gallery director rang me at home on friday afternoon to tell me that she felt I was trying to personally undermine her and had some sort of agenda against her.

I didn't sign up for this and am seriously thinking of leaving so I can use all this emotional stuff on my family rather than at work!

Just to make things more complicated we are supposed to officially merge with the gallery side in two years.

philippat Sun 24-Jul-05 08:40:29

I think you'd only regret it if you left because there was bad feeling. Deciding to leave to spend time with your family is great, but feeling forced to leave is an entirely different matter. If I were you, I'd try and make things better before making that kind of decision.

You say you are quite subjective, my experience of the arts is that EVERYONE is subjective! I suspect the problem is a fundamental difference of opinion in how to handle things. You might not be able to solve that, but you should be able to get to a position where you are respecting each other rather than fighting.

Although it may not feel like it at the minute, the fact that they are willing to speak up about difficulties is actually a positive. What you need to get to is a position where you don't feel defensive about it, but can discuss together how to solve it.

Is there an action plan towards the merger? Perhaps time to look at that with a full and frank discussion about how the two organisations are different and where these differences are strengths and need to be preserved and where compromises could be reached.

If you want them to respect your opinion, you'll need to respect theirs. Do you? If not, can you put your finger on why?

mandyc66 Sun 24-Jul-05 08:45:34

Enid I feel for you. Its awful when you feel everyone is against you. I would run!!! But that is not the advice I would give you! You enjoy your work so why should you leave? I think you should try to make time to ask these people individually what the problem is. Also refuse to talk out of hours that is YOUR time. Maybe offer to take them to lunch or for a coffee and chat. Admit you are tired and tell them you are only human and have feelings too!!! Good luck!!!

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 08:48:49

thanks philippa what a great post.

There is no real action plan. The gallery think that we will benefit hugely in kudos and respect by being merged with them. The problem is that they have a completely different remit to us - very highbrow, contemporary art whereas we are a community art organisation. For example, we had an open painting exhibition a few months ago where anyone in the area could send in work, we selected it and hung it. We were not allowed to hang it in the main gallery as it wasn't good enough (which I can kind of understand). Anyway, it was very popular and the community loved it.

The gallery have just received a very large grant from the arts council to run a big new project. Part of it is an Open painting exhibition but of a much 'higher standard' than ours - aimed at professional contemporary artists (nationally I should think). In the interests of trying to create a positive atmosphere between our org and theirs, I suggested one of our council of management be on the selection panel. The gallery director flipped out - I think this is at the root of her problem. She accused me of trying to make her life difficult and if I got my way she would resign!

how can two organisations that are supposed to merge have such fundamental problems?

tigermoth Sun 24-Jul-05 08:49:06

Enid, I hoped it was not you posting. Sorry things are so stressful after you have done so much. I know how hard you've worked.

I have worked with people I just do not get on with. I found it really difficult to stop thoughts churning around when I left work and got really annoyed with myself for allowing this rubbish to interfere with family time.

I know lots of people will give you great advice based on their management experience - I expect this thread will be full of messages soon!

How is the gallery doing? is it doing as well as your educational charity? Any chance that the gallery staff feel threatened?

Perhaps the gallery director has caught wind of news that the merge means the gallery risks losing power or staff? will the gallery director face possible demotion or redundancy? Even if you don't know anything about this, could people higher up have put the frighteners on her? Or perhaps she is very ambitious and wants to be in total charge when the merge happens, and you stand in her way?

have to go, back in minute

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 08:50:33

thanks philippa what a great post.

There is no real action plan. The gallery think that we will benefit hugely in kudos and respect by being merged with them. The problem is that they have a completely different remit to us - very highbrow, contemporary art whereas we are a community art organisation. For example, we had an open painting exhibition a few months ago where anyone in the area could send in work, we selected it and hung it. We were not allowed to hang it in the main gallery as it wasn't good enough (which I can kind of understand). Anyway, it was very popular and the community loved it.

The gallery have just received a very large grant from the arts council to run a big new project. Part of it is an Open painting exhibition but of a much 'higher standard' than ours - aimed at professional contemporary artists (nationally I should think). In the interests of trying to create a positive atmosphere between our org and theirs, I suggested one of our council of management be on the selection panel. The gallery director flipped out - I think this is at the root of her problem. She accused me of trying to make her life difficult and if I got my way she would resign!

how can two organisations that are supposed to merge have such fundamental problems?

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 08:50:53

sorry dd2 decided to x post

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 08:52:21

post-merger staffing structure definitely an issue. She is not someone who can let go easily. I really respect her and used to like her very much but couldn't face it if she ended up being my boss!

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 08:53:28

tigermoth your first sentence has made me cry.

I really feel as low as i ever have over this

mandyc66 Sun 24-Jul-05 08:53:37

maybe I was looking at it from a person side rather than a business side?!

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 08:54:38

yes you are right to do so mandy.

for some reason I don't want to approach it from that way - i wonder why??? I think I am going mad.

mandyc66 Sun 24-Jul-05 08:57:13

meant personal!!!!
Its very hard to know what to do for the best, but dont let anyone make the desission..decission..descission..(can never spell that) dont let anyone else make your mind up for you!!!
Its your life and you only have one chance at this one so do what you want to do!!!
I still think try and talk to them!

sobernow Sun 24-Jul-05 09:10:35

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 09:11:50

can I just add that when I suggested one of our council be on the gallery selection panel, the Chairman of the Trust (basically teh big boss) thought it was a great idea and was compltely supportive of it.

I guess thats really upset her maybe although I still cant handle that she has taken it so personally

philippat Sun 24-Jul-05 09:11:59

I personally don't think that there is a problem having a high quality contemporary art gallery and grassroots community arts in the same organisation. You SHOULD be able to complement each other well, because you are looking at different users and mostly different funding streams, there's no danger of competing with yourself.

But, co-operative working in these circumstances CAN be difficult, mostly because it's actually quite hard to understand the other's point of view. You're never going to fully understand why they are more interested in the quality of the work they exhibit rather than the quality of experience of the visitors and participants. They's never going to fully understand that the work you do can change people's lives for the better.

In an ideal world the merger would mean you'd both have an over-reaching boss who'd be able to see the benefits of both sides and the skils and experience you both bring. I do realise the real world probably means this won't happen.

I bet neither of you have time to think about how this merger will work. I really think somehow you need to sit down together to discuss it. A friendly lunch might be a start, depends on how bad the relationship really is by now A trip to see an organisation where Art Gallery and community arts work well together would be good. If you were in this part of the world, I'd recommend Walsall, but a bit of a trip for you!

Don't be afraid to ask advice and admit this is a difficult process. Have you thought about approaching Arts & Business for a volunteer from business or personnel with experience in change management? An outsider might be able to help you both through the process (bit like marriage guidance!)

tigermoth Sun 24-Jul-05 09:12:42

oh, enid, this is not like you. I hope you have some time off pdq now the school holidays have started.

Who's managing the gallery and educational charity overall? are they leaving you in the dark about the merge - do you know all its implications, what's the aim of the merge, why is it happening?

From what you've said, your two organisations are entirely different. You agree on that and so does the other director, so that's something. It's all very well for you both to be told your organisations will must merge, but what about the nitty gritty of your working relationship? Has anyone at your level or higher worked that out yet?

It honestly sounds to me like the gallery owner feels very under threat and that's not your fault. She sees herself as some sort of guardian of the arts, so she is bound to take this merge idea personally. It wouldn't matter who you were, she'd be hostile to anyone in your job.

jampots Sun 24-Jul-05 09:12:45

Enid - is this gallery manager effectively your "opposite" in the gallery? It sounds like she is struggling for power but of course when you have power you dont need to struggle for it and she may realise this. I would be inclined to try and clear your head of any "old crap" and then continue with the job that you seem to be doing extremely well. It sounds like they would suffer if you did go.

tigermoth Sun 24-Jul-05 09:15:09

Also, how about youb both visiting galleries and educational charities that have successfully merged? Can you get this info from the Arts Council? If you and the gallery director could see how these merges work in practice, it might help a lot.

philippat Sun 24-Jul-05 09:15:10

oh and have to be completely honest and say, drop the selection panel idea and let her worry about it. There are some good ideas that it's just not worth the hassle pursuing if the person organising it don't think it's a good plan.

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 09:15:37

sobernow!

why is it so hard for the art world to get their head around?

"that people who see themselves as dealing in the highbrow end of the arts are embarrassed because they can't publicly rubbish community involvement when secretly they hate it. " this is so absolutely bang on.

so i guess I feel depressed that I am going to merge with an organisation that basically just wants our funding and has no genuine appreciation of what we do. She wants our funding to go towards supporting professional development workshops for artists rather than watercolour classes for old people (she rather charmingly calls them 'kitten painters'). It does make me cross especially as the old dears love their classes and they are a lifeline for some of them.

sobernow Sun 24-Jul-05 09:18:26

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 09:18:35

have to go as dh hurrumphing around will read other posts later thank you so much everyone

Enid Sun 24-Jul-05 09:22:46

i also feel the need to say that I dont have any problems with people in my own organisation!

tigermoth Sun 24-Jul-05 09:23:20

By having no respect for community projects, she's saying she has no respect for what you've worked for. As you are rightly proud of your achievements, this hurts. Totally understandable.

sobernow Sun 24-Jul-05 09:30:07

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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