May 4, 2016

Over the next couple of editions, Arts Hub Australia will be publishing extracts from the A to Z which is great. But in the meantime, I’ll keep providing new snippets as I work through the alphabet.

Ironically, my first P is passion – and I suspect we’re all going to be passionately disappointed in the next couple of weeks. Arts and Culture were almost invisible in last night’s Australian Federal budget and I fear that there is going to be more bad news when the next round of Australian Council funding is announced. Live Performance Australia is saying that up to 40% of small to medium sized arts companies are likely to lose their funding. If this is anywhere close to accurate, it’s going to be devastating for all those people that work in those companies.

One way or the other, all the other topics under P relate to people: Pay, Performance Appraisal, Policies, Power & Problem Solving. Here’s an extract from People:


“There are times when you’ll be alone in this job as an arts or cultural manager. But most of the time you’ll be listening to, talking to, supporting, training, advising and agonizing over people.

You’ve chosen to be an arts manager because you care about the arts and that implies that you want to dedicate your life to supporting the artists who make it. As well as artists you’ll be dealing with politicians and philanthropists, carpenters and cleaners, accountants and arts workers, ticket sellers and technicians. Some of them will be like you but most of them won’t – they’ll be of a different gender or sexual orientation or age or ethnicity or religion or ableness. You’ll have to not only live with diversity but treasure all the benefits that come from different experiences and opinions.

In many ways, people management is the hardest part of the job. In a salutary quote, Deming says:

“In my experience, people can face almost any problem except the problems of people. They can work long hours, face declining business, face loss of jobs, but not the problems of people” (1982, p. 137).

I’ve known good managers who will do anything rather than deal directly with underperformance. Or who are fabulous in their area of speciality but just can’t build the team cohesion that will make a difference. Or who aren’t comfortable with people of a different gender or ethnicity. Or who want to be friends with their staff rather than be the boss.  If people like this are in your team, you have to coach them or provide them with development opportunities to build their skills in managing people. Because ultimately you can’t be a really good manager unless you can help people fulfil their potential for the betterment of the company.

Shelly Lazarus, ex-Chairman and CEO of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide talks about advice he received from the founder David Ogilvy: “[n]o matter how much time you spend thinking about, worrying about, focusing on, questioning the value of, and evaluating people, it won’t be enough , he said. People are the only thing you should think about, because when that part is right, everything else works” (Wademan 2005, p.107).

In ‘managing’ people, you have to play a variety of roles.  In talking about managing young people, Drucker (1990, p. 148) quotes a minister who says that they need a mentor to guide them, a teacher to develop their skills, a judge to evaluate their progress and an encourager to cheer them on. In my experience, it’s not a matter of age. People appreciate all these aspects of support from their manager.”


Deming, W 1982, Out of Crisis, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

Wademan, D 2005 ‘The best advice I ever got’ in Harvard Business Review on Managing Yourself,  Harvard Business School Publishing, Boston Mass, 103-127