jennyst: Jenny on a photo of space (Default)
Jenny S-T ([personal profile] jennyst) wrote2012-07-04 07:33 am


[personal profile] awatson wrote a great post on burnout recently. I've mostly been suffering from those symptoms too much to write in here, despite my early dreams. If you want more OTW news, [personal profile] renay and [personal profile] hl are also writing a bit from different perspectives.

Board is difficult. We have three people who can hardly ever make a meeting at the moment. I would say you can see from our minutes, but I'm having trouble getting a quorum to approve the minutes so I can post them. And it's getting to be holiday season, so it's only going to get harder. We can't really have the discussions of big issues that we need if only half the board are there. So we tick along on the admin side, and work on making specific committees more sustainable.

That's an uphill battle, too. We have had an unlucky year, with six chairs having to step down in the first six months of the year - that's significantly higher than normal. We've also had a lot of experienced staffers finally hit the point of "too much". So for those who are left, training newbies is balanced with keeping things running, and trying to fit in some long-term strategic thinking in the gaps. It's easy to think that all we need to do is train and mentor more people for future leadership, but mentoring is hard work, even if it's rewarding. There are people who say they have tons of professional experience, but then don't seem to apply any of the expected skills to their org work. Which applies to me some days, too - I forget that the day-job skills for dealing with difficult clients could be applied to fannish friends in the org.

The AO3 performance problems have slipped off the headlines, but behind the scenes everyone knows it's only a temporary reprieve - we need to fix the actual problems so they don't recur. And because of the stress that's causing, still no-one wants to talk about any of the issues that were raised publicly during the last election.

I wanted to end this on a hopeful note, but I can't think of one right now. I guess that's another of the symptoms of burnout. Anyone want to volunteer for Board next year?
starlady: the AO3 cake is not a lie (cake is (not) a lie)

[personal profile] starlady 2012-07-04 07:36 am (UTC)(link)
If people can't live up to their commitment as Board members, they shouldn't be on the Board, methinks.

But what the hell do I know, I'm just the Chair of a committee that does its damndest to meet weekly.

Sorry, that wasn't optimistic, was it.
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[personal profile] onceamy 2012-07-04 08:13 am (UTC)(link)

Honestly, if this were a professional organization and half the board weren't turning up, I'd demand a re-election. It's not right.

Nor was that optimistic, sorry :(
Edited 2012-07-04 08:14 (UTC)
unjapanologist: (Default)

[personal profile] unjapanologist 2012-07-05 01:00 am (UTC)(link)
Saw the breakdown of board meeting attendance that someone on f_fa did. Damn. There's not living up to your commitment, and then there's this.

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[personal profile] starlady 2012-07-05 04:53 pm (UTC)(link)
Yeah, I'm aware of Ira's health and computer problems, and those are one thing. But the other is totally unacceptable. Volunteers at many levels are not Board members.
autumnus: A purple monochrome portrait of Zoe from Dreamfall, with drawn stars in background and "the Dreamer" written on bottom. (Default)

[personal profile] autumnus 2012-07-04 09:16 am (UTC)(link)
board well, we knew this was going to happen. The chairs were less expected through :(


I think there needs to be a system on the org to make sure board members prioritize their work a little more since it is so important. This is not a joke.

hey if you want positive note I think there are several workgroups (like survey) that is doing awesomely. There are some part of the orgs where the morale is high.


Also to be blunt the reason why people don't apply their skills has unfortunately to do with the environment within the org. Sometimes it is just plainly not possible to get a voice or work in without the overhead of dealing with people, sometimes just because people don't have the energy in first place to work with it. the silver lining is that it means if we can fix the burnout issue that one will largely fix itself. Unless I am missing something.
Edited (addendum) 2012-07-04 09:36 (UTC)
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)

[personal profile] hl 2012-07-04 07:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Maybe sometimes is that, but I've been in a position of wanting to learn from people who are doing something professionally, and where they're given complete freedom to actually decide how the stuff is done -- since they're the ones with the Knowledge -- and people just... don't. Either they disappear, or they don't use it. I don't know what that is, but 'dealing with people' is an unavoidable part of 'working with people'. If no professional people can do that, then we're in bigger trouble than we can fix.

And yes, 'dealing with people' can be a drag, but, come on.
autumnus: A purple monochrome portrait of Zoe from Dreamfall, with drawn stars in background and "the Dreamer" written on bottom. (Default)

[personal profile] autumnus 2012-07-05 12:13 am (UTC)(link)
well from my experience so far it is usually the case. it doesn't have to be that people get into a fight or have to do something extreme. People who work professionally with highly sought skills often don't have time to deal with convincing people that there is something to be learned of them. They have better things to do with their unpaid time. Furthermore they also see it NOT working pretty quickly and just walk out.

Sorry for being harsh but it is about time OTW realizes it is working with real people who has real lives.

You treat an org like an afternoon hobby, that is what it becomes. You want it to be a serious place, then that is how people need to act. It is as simple as that.

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[personal profile] ruric 2012-07-04 12:55 pm (UTC)(link)
I'm sorry you're having a rough time of it, but I've been impressed with how much more I know about the OTW because the comms seems to have improved significantly.

From the regular posts with links to thinks of interest, and publishing of minutes, the feedback on the survey - there's info out there now that there wasn't before.

Also wrestling an organisation to change is a bit like trying to change the direction a supertanker is moving - it doesn't happen quickly.

I'm still tiptoeing around getting more actively involved, losing most of May to being ill and most of June to catching up with being ill has not been convenient!

On a personal front I'm also slightly worried about the sheer number of meeting the OTW seems to have/expect people to attend. Hearing people talk about 2 or 3 meetings a week often at stupid o'clock in the morning? I know that I couldn't do that and do actual work for the org (and hold down some local voluntary work I do) - so I've been hesitating about gettig back in touch.

I don't see how the actual work gets done when there are so very many meetings (which I kind of expect at Board level) and I've done my time working for OWSNBN where we would spend endless days in meetings talking about what needed to be done which meant we then had no time to DO what needed to be done.

In short I hear you and feel your pain, especially if Board members are not able to attend meetings. We went through a similar phase in the non-profit I used to work for and the end result was an inclusion in Board/Committee members job description and a charter that said if they didn't consistently get to 3/4 of the meetings they would have to leave the Board/Committee. It was the only way we managed to get bums on seats consistently.

I wish you all the best and please, please make sure you get some downtime or soe way to decompress before you burnout too!
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[personal profile] troisroyaumes 2012-07-04 04:09 pm (UTC)(link)
an inclusion in Board/Committee members job description and a charter that said if they didn't consistently get to 3/4 of the meetings they would have to leave the Board/Committee.

This sounds like a good idea; I wonder if the upcoming Code of Conduct will have a section concerning Board attendance too.

Best of luck, Jenny, and please know that all of us really appreciate your hard work.

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[personal profile] samvara 2012-07-04 02:15 pm (UTC)(link)
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[personal profile] renay 2012-07-04 05:36 pm (UTC)(link)
I am so sorry you're exhausted. I know I have said "one day at a time" and "patience", but it's hard to sit from inside and watch things barely move. It's so frustrating.

I think recently you have made excellent decisions for yourself personally and I am so, so proud of you, because I know they were tough. I am glad you did them and hope over the long term they provide some relief. ♥
hl: Drawing of Ada Lovelace as a young child, reading a Calculus book (Default)

[personal profile] hl 2012-07-04 07:08 pm (UTC)(link)
Keep on keeping in on! /is unhelpful

More seriously, I thought that minutes only required the aye from the people who actually attended the meeting? Or maybe bring up doing it with majority or the three days rule? Either would probably end up being less frustrating for you as the person getting them approved.

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[personal profile] celli 2012-07-04 08:54 pm (UTC)(link)
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[personal profile] bingeling 2012-07-05 08:24 am (UTC)(link)
+hugs you lots+
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[personal profile] turlough 2012-07-05 06:47 pm (UTC)(link)
*driveby hugs*
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[personal profile] hermitsoul 2012-07-06 03:08 am (UTC)(link)
Anyone want to volunteer for Board next year?

Let me quote what I put in my response to the email asking me if I had any interest in running for Board: hahahahahahahahaha, no.

That was, hmm, 9 months ago? And if anything, that response has become more even more true. Chair is the highest I'll ever go. :D