Author Topic: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming  (Read 4972 times)

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Offline kjayers

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Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« on: September 09, 2010, 12:43:52 am »
Do you have questions for the candidates for 2011 Director of Programming?  Ask here.
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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #1 on: September 09, 2010, 06:42:27 am »
It certainly could be a challenge, figuring out what may have to be cut or blend to fit into our new configuration. What sorts of supports and information do you need to help you with this  process?
Would it help you if you were to add a position to manage all the between-con mini events, so you could focus on the con itself?
If you had a year off, and could just come to con to play, what would you most enjoy attending? And whom would you cosplay?
What are some of the best ways to simultaneously promote responsible, professional conduct amongst prog staff (at all levels), and keep them having fun so they want to return?
Thanks, and much love!
Rem.
« Last Edit: September 09, 2010, 10:29:58 am by RemSaverem »
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
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Offline Jamiche

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #2 on: September 10, 2010, 09:41:15 am »
It certainly could be a challenge, figuring out what may have to be cut or blend to fit into our new configuration. What sorts of supports and information do you need to help you with this  process?

I rely alot on feedback from both attendees and staff on how the previous year's events ran: Which ones were popular and well attended?  Which, not so much?  Browsing the forums for attendee feedback, and talking with my panel staff usually give me a good idea.

Another consideration for this year will be space and tech.  How will the space be allocated, and do we have enough tech to cover all of it?  In the past, we've moved tech as necessary, but I don't think that it will as easy to with the split hotels, so that will have to be planned around.

We are growing every year, and as such we need to accommodate as many people as we can.  We need to look at larger rooms, if at all possible, and that may mean losing total rooms, while providing bigger spaces for what we have left.  It's all a balancing act...

Would it help you if you were to add a position to manage all the between-con mini events, so you could focus on the con itself?

I don't think that is necessary.  The mid-year events have gotten to the point that they are pretty easy to run (we have a system down, it's just a matter of changing up small details.. plus, they can be fun :)).  They can also be a chance to train new staff, or try out a new setup, so I would still want to be involved.  And since they are all earlier in the year, they do no distract from planning con... they can even be a good chance to make contacts.

If you had a year off, and could just come to con to play, what would you most enjoy attending? And whom would you cosplay?

It would be nice to actually attend some of the panels for a change ;)  My faves to attend have been Beau's Anime That Scarred Me For Life (which I completely missed this year ><) and the Dating Game... would be nice to not have to leave early :)  As for cosplay.. I'm not sure.  I tend to cosplay with a group, so it would depend on what the others are interested in doing (although there has been talk of the shikigamis from Yami no Matsuei  ;))

What are some of the best ways to simultaneously promote responsible, professional conduct amongst prog staff (at all levels), and keep them having fun so they want to return?

I am not a big fan of drama among staff.  I expect people to behave professionally, which means that even if you don't like the person you are working with, you are civil and you do your job.

That being said.. it's important for staff to have fun (otherwise, what's the point in being staff?)  Making sure they have the opportunity to do things at con, participate in events that they are interested in, as long as it does not conflict with their staff duties (or helping to find them staff position that is a better fit).

Respectful communication is also key... not everyone works the same, and you have to be aware of that, take it into consideration.  As we get bigger, more staffers are having to work together, and that brings different personalities into play.  Some people prefer calls over texts, while some prefer forum over email... and while communication is very important, you have to understand that everyone does it differently, and adjust accordingly.
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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #3 on: September 10, 2010, 09:54:41 am »
Thank you for a perfect reply, with which I agree entirely :)
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2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
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Offline TomtheFanboy

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2010, 01:12:30 pm »
As always, I need to check... If I had my way it would be on the staff registration form. My job would be so much easier.

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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2010, 02:40:42 pm »
How important is it for a Director to get to know each of her or his staff, at least top staff? If not personally, at least by face or name? What are some ways you would endeavor to get to know your staff?
Thank you.
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
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Offline Jamiche

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2010, 09:53:26 am »
What is your favorite flavor of Pocky?

Men's Pocky, of course ;)

How important is it for a Director to get to know each of her or his staff, at least top staff? If not personally, at least by face or name? What are some ways you would endeavor to get to know your staff?
Thank you.

I prefer to be able to recognize my staffers, which is why I have the requirement that I have to meet new staffers before I will sign them up.  And it's even more important when it is for a coordinator or above position, as those can entail pre-con work.  Staying in communication with those staffers is important to ensure that events/programming runs as smooth as possible.

As for getting to know staff.. I encourage staffers to attend meetings and any work parties or staff events that we may have... it's a good way to get to know your fellow staffers.  Helping out at mini-events is great too... you're helping to put on a fun event, and working with other staff and volunteers, and it's much less hectic than con itself (a good practice event :D)
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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2010, 11:57:45 am »


How important is it for a Director to get to know each of her or his staff, at least top staff? If not personally, at least by face or name? What are some ways you would endeavor to get to know your staff?
Thank you.

I prefer to be able to recognize my staffers, which is why I have the requirement that I have to meet new staffers before I will sign them up.  And it's even more important when it is for a coordinator or above position, as those can entail pre-con work.  Staying in communication with those staffers is important to ensure that events/programming runs as smooth as possible.

As for getting to know staff.. I encourage staffers to attend meetings and any work parties or staff events that we may have... it's a good way to get to know your fellow staffers.  Helping out at mini-events is great too... you're helping to put on a fun event, and working with other staff and volunteers, and it's much less hectic than con itself (a good practice event :D)

Thank you, you actually answered my next intended question! Which was about the value of mini-events, from the perspective of an Exec's time being invested in them.

What do you feel is a comfortable number of mini-events you could help bring into being between cons?

What do you do, for yourself, to keep yourself from feeling overstretched or burnt out?

Thank you again, I appreciate both your time and the specific content of your replies.
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
2007, 8, 9, 10: Fan Creation Manager. 2011: Writing & Editing Coord (Publicity).

Offline Jamiche

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2010, 02:09:32 pm »
What do you feel is a comfortable number of mini-events you could help bring into being between cons?

It doesn't come down to a number but how many volunteers we have to run them.  We do a variety of mini-events throughout the year (dance and mini-con) and help out at other events (Eugene Asian Celebration and GameStorm).  The more volunteers we have, the more events we can do... right now, it's pretty much the same staff/volunteers helping out at these events.

What do you do, for yourself, to keep yourself from feeling overstretched or burnt out?

Luckily, most of the work I do for con involves other staff, so it's time spent with friends, so that helps with the feeling of burn out - it's hangout time.  But to keep from being overstretched, it's simply a matter of learning to say no... some things just need to be handled by other people.
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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #9 on: September 13, 2010, 03:03:46 pm »
Thank you for another reply that is perfect, with the exception that hopefully new folks will see this and sign up to help with mini events. Maybe there could even be a way to earn a staff badge for x number of hours spent planning and running mini events?
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
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Offline MichaelEvans

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #10 on: September 13, 2010, 05:11:29 pm »
And it's even more important when it is for a coordinator or above position, as those can entail pre-con work.

Is that a common conception in general, or is this a specific truism for the Programming department; that only coordinators and above do pre-convention work?

Most of the year round technical operations and development tasks; and probably most of the work in Relations and Publicity must obviously occur before the convention.
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Offline Jamiche

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #11 on: September 13, 2010, 05:37:11 pm »
Is that a common conception in general, or is this a specific truism for the Programming department; that only coordinators and above do pre-convention work?

Most of the year round technical operations and development tasks; and probably most of the work in Relations and Publicity must obviously occur before the convention.

I don't speak for other departments, I can only speak for my own.  Since the bulk of what Programming does is at con, it only makes sense that the bulk of the Programming staff's work is at-con... the pre-con coordination is done by coordinators, managers, etc...

But if you want to break it down... then yeah, the majority of Publicity's work would be prior to con, as they are responsible for advertising, and the con book and pocket guide.  Relations, on the other hand, is split - while you have the Dealer's Hall and Artist Alley managers responsible for getting their respective areas set up, and the Charity Auction person dealing with the donations, the majority of the staff do their work at con, staffing their area, or working with the guests. 

Each department has different way of running.
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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #12 on: September 13, 2010, 07:18:36 pm »
Is there presently a way (either through Prog or Street Team) to earn a staff badge for con, by doing a bunch of work ahead of con, on the mini events? If not, could/should there be? I guess this is a bit of a follow-up to the combo if your saying it is often the same folks working on the minis, and the other inquiry as to whether folks in entry-level Prog jobs do work before con.
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
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Offline Jamiche

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #13 on: September 13, 2010, 08:32:02 pm »
Is there presently a way (either through Prog or Street Team) to earn a staff badge for con, by doing a bunch of work ahead of con, on the mini events? If not, could/should there be? I guess this is a bit of a follow-up to the combo if your saying it is often the same folks working on the minis, and the other inquiry as to whether folks in entry-level Prog jobs do work before con.

No, there is not.  And to be quite honest, I don't think there should be.  This is not to discount any work that people do before con (and there are alot of people that do alot of work), but I am of the opinion that if you have a staff badge you are working at con, even if the your main job description is work done before the convention itself.  We are so short-staffed, we need all the help we can get at con.

Any staffer is welcome to work the mini-events... they are not just staff from Programming.  We have even recruited volunteers from regular attendees.. you do not have to be convention staff to volunteer.  It is a great way for people to try it out, see if it's something they might like to do.
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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #14 on: September 13, 2010, 08:53:35 pm »
Thanks for the reply, and I can see how the minis are a good training ground and a good recruiting ground :)

Do you feel there should be a set minimum and/or a set maximum number of hours that staff at any level should work, either across con week or during the attendee hours of con? If so, do you have specific numbers or a range of numbers in mind?
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
2007, 8, 9, 10: Fan Creation Manager. 2011: Writing & Editing Coord (Publicity).

Offline kjayers

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2010, 02:14:21 pm »
Most of the year the Board meets monthly, but Board Members are also expected to make as many of the mini events as possible, all General Meetings, certain work parties and retreats in addition to the meetings, and (of course) meeting frequency increases closer to convention.

Are you able to meet these commitments? 

What kind of things are likely to arise that may interfere?  (Deaths in the family are, of course, impossible to anticipate.)
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Offline Jamiche

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2010, 03:23:45 pm »
Most of the year the Board meets monthly, but Board Members are also expected to make as many of the mini events as possible, all General Meetings, certain work parties and retreats in addition to the meetings, and (of course) meeting frequency increases closer to convention.

Are you able to meet these commitments? 

What kind of things are likely to arise that may interfere?  (Deaths in the family are, of course, impossible to anticipate.)

My time is not as free as it once was (what with working out of town), but I should be able to make the events/meetings.  I was at most of the events last year, and I believe I only missed one of the general meetings.  And there is always Skype for the executive meetings.

The only interferences I can think of are work project deadlines and weather for travel, but they can be hard to predict.
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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #17 on: September 22, 2010, 10:58:45 am »
Do you have a sense of whether Prog has more staff retention than other departments? If so, to what do you attribute that? Either way, when people are considering leaving Prog, either for other departments or leaving KC altogether, what do you feel are the best ways to retain them or recruit new people for those roles? Would you be open to exit polls for former staff, asking what might have led them to be able to remain staff?
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Offline Jamiche

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #18 on: September 22, 2010, 02:24:50 pm »
Do you have a sense of whether Prog has more staff retention than other departments? If so, to what do you attribute that? Either way, when people are considering leaving Prog, either for other departments or leaving KC altogether, what do you feel are the best ways to retain them or recruit new people for those roles? Would you be open to exit polls for former staff, asking what might have led them to be able to remain staff?

Jo may have a better record, but it seems like Programming is able to retain a good portion of it's staff, and I like to think it's because they enjoy the work they are doing:  Video gamers are Video Gaming staff, artists are Creation Station staff, etc...  They work in the departments they enjoy already, and want to see them succeed at con.

When people are leaving Programming, it's usually a growth issue:  they either want to grow their con experience by working in another department, or they are growing away from staffing.  Obviously, I hate to lose experienced staff, so I will ask to see if there is anything that would make them reconsider and stay... but if they are ready to move on, then I wish them best of luck.

Staff recruitment is always tricky... people want to help out the con, but are not sure how to do it.  I usually try to find out what they are interested in, and steer them in the right direction, whether it's Programming, Operations, or Relations.  It's more important for the job to be a good fit than just having a body fill a position... it can make quite the difference.

I encourage people who are leaving/changing staff to give feedback on their staff position.. it's a better chance to determine what the needs of the position are.  But I am not a fan of formalizing the process... IMO, being required to give information is not the same as information being freely offered.
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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #19 on: September 22, 2010, 03:39:59 pm »
I totally agree. People stay the longest when they are happiest with the content of what they are doing, when they find the niche that best fits for them. Being able to laterally shift within a department is also exceptionally valuable. For example, a person who gave a fabulous new art panel this year in the CS, started out as fanfic staff before becoming an art student. She's still all about Fan Creations, but now more Art than Fics, and it's totally logical for her to evolve to be an Art staff instead of "having" to stay a Fic staff even though that's where she started.
     Given all this:
How flexible are Directors (or do you think Directors should be) about lateral transfers (within the same department, across positions of comparable rank)? If someone starts out in one position, but there is another that would be a better fit for any reason, how easy is it (or how easy should it be) to switch roles? Who is allowed to initiate such and who much authorize such? Is the process different if the switch  from one sub-department (e.g., Karaoke) to another sub-department (e.g., Gaming)?
Are there comparable processes for vertical transfers (within the same department, but either moving to a position of higher or lower responsibility)? (Examples: Someone starts in good faith as a Coordinator, but something unexpected comes up like a need for surgery or a pregnancy or something that makes them have less time available; or someone starts as basic staff but shows potential to handle more responsibility.) Thanks!
(BTW: My idea was that we'd get more feedback if we had an Exit Interview form available, thereby condoning the input; but yes, to have it be totally voluntary.)
« Last Edit: September 22, 2010, 04:45:08 pm by RemSaverem »
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
2007, 8, 9, 10: Fan Creation Manager. 2011: Writing & Editing Coord (Publicity).

Offline Jamiche

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #20 on: September 22, 2010, 04:44:16 pm »
How flexible are Directors (or do you think Directors should be) about lateral transfers (within the same department, across positions of comparable rank)? If someone starts out in one position, but there is another that would be a better fit for any reason, how easy is it (or how easy should it be) to switch roles? Who is allowed to initiate such and who much authorize such? Is the process different if the switch  from one sub-department (e.g., Karaoke) to another sub-department (e.g., Gaming)?
Are there comparable processes for vertical transfers (within the same department, but either moving to a position of higher or lower responsibility)? (Examples: Someone starts in good faith as a Coordinator, but something unexpected comes up like a need for surgery or a pregnancy or something that makes them have less time available; or someone starts as basic staff but shows potential to handle more responsibility.)

In the past, I have moved staff around as needed, and promoted staff to coordinator  and above positions as fit best.  These moves should be done with both parties agreement (staff and Director)... it is more important that the position is a good fit, versus what the postition itself it.  Either party can make the suggestion - I have asked staff to fill other positions, and have had some come to me saying they would like this position better.  As long as both agree, I don't see that it matters who proposed it.

The same holds true for the reverse - if there is a manager who would be better off in a less-stressful or time-consuming position, then it is to the benefit of all involved to make the move.

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Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #21 on: September 22, 2010, 04:47:04 pm »

In the past, I have moved staff around as needed, and promoted staff to coordinator  and above positions as fit best.  These moves should be done with both parties agreement (staff and Director)... it is more important that the position is a good fit, versus what the postition itself it.  Either party can make the suggestion - I have asked staff to fill other positions, and have had some come to me saying they would like this position better.  As long as both agree, I don't see that it matters who proposed it.

The same holds true for the reverse - if there is a manager who would be better off in a less-stressful or time-consuming position, then it is to the benefit of all involved to make the move.

Makes great sense, thanks.
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
2007, 8, 9, 10: Fan Creation Manager. 2011: Writing & Editing Coord (Publicity).

Offline kjayers

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #22 on: September 22, 2010, 07:32:23 pm »
Jo may have a better record, but it seems like Programming is able to retain a good portion of it's staff, and I like to think it's because they enjoy the work they are doing:  Video gamers are Video Gaming staff, artists are Creation Station staff, etc...  They work in the departments they enjoy already, and want to see them succeed at con.

DepartmentNewVetTotal
Board1910
Facilities112
Operations   49   30   79
Programming   47   44   91
Publicity   7   7   14
Relations   10   7   17
Secretary   4   1   5
Treasurer   0   22
Vice      03   3
Grand Total119   104   223

In this case "New" and "Vet" refer only to whether a person was also staff in 2009.  So if someone was staff in 2008, skipped 2009, and staffed again in 2010, that would be recorded as "New".  Also, there appear to be 10 Board because Cassie, who resigned as Director of Publicity, is included in the statistics.  Persons who held multiple staff positions were counted only once.
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Offline Rathany

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #23 on: September 22, 2010, 10:43:24 pm »
*headtilt*

How did we wind up with ten Board members?
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Offline JeffT

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #24 on: September 22, 2010, 10:59:46 pm »
*headtilt*

How did we wind up with ten Board members?

Also, there appear to be 10 Board because Cassie, who resigned as Director of Publicity, is included in the statistics.
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Offline Rathany

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #25 on: September 22, 2010, 11:27:11 pm »
Okay, I fail. 

*hides*
2003 - 2006 Kumoricon Attendee
2007 - Assistant Registration Manager - PreReg Side
2008 - Vice Chair
2009/2010 - Director of Relations
2011 - Return to Vice
2012 - herp derp

Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #26 on: September 23, 2010, 08:48:52 am »
*Totally impressed to see the numbers, and that quickly & organizedly*

Wow, that sure puts things in perspective about the relative size of departments!

Clarifying question: "New" only means that one was on staff the prior year, but not necessarily staff *in the same department*, is that correct?

My curiosity is largely about within-department retention.
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
2007, 8, 9, 10: Fan Creation Manager. 2011: Writing & Editing Coord (Publicity).

Offline votalesin

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #27 on: September 23, 2010, 12:59:58 pm »
I am impressed to see that we had more new staff than we did returning staff. That is very encouraging.

Offline Rathany

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #28 on: September 23, 2010, 01:35:36 pm »
I am impressed to see that we had more new staff than we did returning staff. That is very encouraging.

Except for the part where half of our 2009 staff did not come back.  Orycon helped us get more staff this year by asking their staff to join us and help.  If we lost half our staff again, then what do we do?
2003 - 2006 Kumoricon Attendee
2007 - Assistant Registration Manager - PreReg Side
2008 - Vice Chair
2009/2010 - Director of Relations
2011 - Return to Vice
2012 - herp derp

Offline RemSaverem

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #29 on: September 23, 2010, 03:21:39 pm »
Except for the part where half of our 2009 staff did not come back.  Orycon helped us get more staff this year by asking their staff to join us and help.  If we lost half our staff again, then what do we do?
Wow, I didn't know that about Orycon. That was incredibly sweet. I *love* that con **swoons at sci-fi/fantasy con programming**.
However...Wow. Good point, Dawn. I hadn't seen any stats for any year before, so I do not know whether this attrition rate is higher than or lower than or the same as previous years.
Jaki, having been a Director for many years in a row, do you happen to know? Maybe it's the economy?

The other thought is that we have been staying at the same size deliberately rather than growing in attendance; we already will need extra staff in at least Ops due to the two-hotel scenario, so if we also grew in attendance....yeah. Anyway: Now there is context for all the posts some of us have recently made suggesting ways to track why people stay or go, asking candidates what they think helps or hurts retention, proposing changes such as giving more advance notice for meetings & flexing where people get placed & letting positions exist for folks to do necessary work before con, & have it count towards a badge; etc.
Ellen. 2003: Fanfic panelist & contest judge.
2004: Beta Station Coord. 2005: Fan Creation Station Coord.;pre-event assistant to the con chair.2006: Fanfic Mgr/C.S. Coord.
2007, 8, 9, 10: Fan Creation Manager. 2011: Writing & Editing Coord (Publicity).

Offline Sparky

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Re: Candidate Q&A - 2011 Director of Programming
« Reply #30 on: September 24, 2010, 11:59:14 pm »
First off, hi. My name is Brandon, and I go by Sparky. Long story.

I'm new to the con - I was planning on staffing this year, but a rather spectacular stomach flu with particularly awful timing precluded the possibility.

I have four years of experience teaching martial arts, ten years practicing. In addition, I have three years of consistent customer service experience in the food service & financial service fields, and am currently employed in a support staff position in fraud & identity theft security at a privately held corporation in Tigard, Oregon.

Initially, I volunteered for the con because a close friend told me it was something I needed to do at least once before I died. Now, I want to volunteer because I think this con has the potential to be even better than it already is, and I think I have the drive, ambition, and expertise required to help it fulfill that potential.


It certainly could be a challenge, figuring out what may have to be cut or blend to fit into our new configuration. What sorts of supports and information do you need to help you with this  process?

As a newcomer to the con, I would rely heavily on my professional experience here. I would need the support of the board in pursuing the goal of making this con as efficient, guest-friendly, and well-run as possible. I would also need the support of the staff members working underneath me to create a professional, efficient, and team-oriented environment focused on putting the con first and making it the best experience possible for the attendees.

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Would it help you if you were to add a position to manage all the between-con mini events, so you could focus on the con itself?

Absolutely. One of the greatest strengths of anyone filling a supervisory or management-related position is the ability to delegate effectively by establishing appropriate expectations for the staff members serving under them, and checking in regularly to ensure those expectations are being met consistently. Doing this would, in turn, allow me to devote the maximum level of dedication and effort possible to fulfilling the specific responsibilities of my position, and exceeding any goals or expectations set for me by the board.

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What are some of the best ways to simultaneously promote responsible, professional conduct amongst prog staff (at all levels), and keep them having fun so they want to return?

While I will be the first to admit that work can and should be fun, work must be the top priority at all times for any staff member who is on the job. In order to make it possible for staff members to keep having fun while keeping work their top priority, I believe that well-organized staffing and scheduling are essential. In addition, I am a firm believer in the idea that teamwork and positive attitudes can make or break an organization, and that they should start at the top to be at their most effective.

How important is it for a Director to get to know each of her or his staff, at least top staff? If not personally, at least by face or name? What are some ways you would endeavor to get to know your staff

Being a director does not exempt one from being part of a team - and part of being a team is being accessible to one's teammates. Whenever I become a part of a team, especially in a supervisory or management position, I make it a personal policy to go out of my way to introduce myself to my teammates and actively make myself available for questions, concerns, and discussion from that point onwards.

Also, there's no better way to get to know people than by hosting events that they're all invited to. Just sayin'.


What do you feel is a comfortable number of mini-events you could help bring into being between cons?

It would be difficult to answer this question with a specific number. There are many factors that come into play, including funding, staffing, and scheduling, to name just a few. That said, I am a firm believer that where there's a will, there's a way. If people want it to happen, it will. It's my job to help make it happen however I can - and if these means saying no to some events to make others as awesome as they can be, then that's what it means.

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What do you do, for yourself, to keep yourself from feeling overstretched or burnt out?

Well, I'm a pretty active guy, so that helps take care of most of my stress relief needs. That said, though, delegation, delegation, delegation. I can't stress that enough. It's vitally important for anyone in a supervisory position to be able to delegate effectively in order to maintain focus on their own goals and a cohesive team environment for their staff members.

Knowing when to say no is also a vastly important skill - one must be able to keep a solid level of dedication to their own responsibilities, and part of this is knowing those responsibilities' limits. Not going beyond one's own limits is an essential component of being able to fulfill one's own responsibilities to the utmost.


Maybe there could even be a way to earn a staff badge for x number of hours spent planning and running mini events?
Is there presently a way (either through Prog or Street Team) to earn a staff badge for con, by doing a bunch of work ahead of con, on the mini events? If not, could/should there be? I guess this is a bit of a follow-up to the combo if your saying it is often the same folks working on the minis, and the other inquiry as to whether folks in entry-level Prog jobs do work before con.

I think my answer to both of these questions would be fairly similar. In all honesty, I don't have a solid opinion on this as of yet, but I would certainly welcome feedback.

While I can certainly see the viewpoint of those who feel that the hard work of those who participate in pre-con events should be recognized, I can also see that doing so by awarding staff badges to people who may not actually work the con may cause people who do work the con to feel that their contributions are not being recognized enough.

What do you think?


Do you feel there should be a set minimum and/or a set maximum number of hours that staff at any level should work, either across con week or during the attendee hours of con? If so, do you have specific numbers or a range of numbers in mind?

During con, yes. I would strongly suggest an organized cadre of volunteers who would be offered a free or deeply discounted day pass for any day during which they worked a minimum of four hours and a maximum of six. Above that would be staff members, who would be required to work a minimum of eight hours per day for two out of the three days of con.

Although I would generally expect that as a labor of love, board members and staff would give a good deal more time to the con than the 16 hours at con itself, I would only expect that it actually be outright required of directors, managers, and coordinators.


Most of the year the Board meets monthly, but Board Members are also expected to make as many of the mini events as possible, all General Meetings, certain work parties and retreats in addition to the meetings, and (of course) meeting frequency increases closer to convention.

Are you able to meet these commitments? 

What kind of things are likely to arise that may interfere?  (Deaths in the family are, of course, impossible to anticipate.)

Actually, at this point, there are plans in the works that I can't yet disclose which will (hopefully!) make it a good deal easier for me to attend each and every pre-con event this upcoming year - but at the very least, I can say that no family members are planning on getting married in 2011.

In short, yes, I can. Barring catastrophic illness or natural disaster.


Do you have a sense of whether Prog has more staff retention than other departments? If so, to what do you attribute that? Either way, when people are considering leaving Prog, either for other departments or leaving KC altogether, what do you feel are the best ways to retain them or recruit new people for those roles? Would you be open to exit polls for former staff, asking what might have led them to be able to remain staff?

To answer the first question, as a newcomer, all I have at the moment are the numbers - and it appears to me that Programming's staff retention is essentially on the same level as the other departments.

That said, an essential ingredient to staff retention in any job, volunteer or otherwise, is job satisfaction. As mentioned above, I feel very strongly that although job satisfaction hinges on a number of widely varied factors, among the most important are a positive attitude and team environment created from the top down.


I totally agree. People stay the longest when they are happiest with the content of what they are doing, when they find the niche that best fits for them. Being able to laterally shift within a department is also exceptionally valuable. For example, a person who gave a fabulous new art panel this year in the CS, started out as fanfic staff before becoming an art student. She's still all about Fan Creations, but now more Art than Fics, and it's totally logical for her to evolve to be an Art staff instead of "having" to stay a Fic staff even though that's where she started.
     Given all this:
How flexible are Directors (or do you think Directors should be) about lateral transfers (within the same department, across positions of comparable rank)? If someone starts out in one position, but there is another that would be a better fit for any reason, how easy is it (or how easy should it be) to switch roles? Who is allowed to initiate such and who much authorize such? Is the process different if the switch  from one sub-department (e.g., Karaoke) to another sub-department (e.g., Gaming)?

Management's role in any organization includes filling those roles reporting to them with people who fit best within those roles. In addition, employees who feel valued by the managers they report to tend to possess a higher level of job satisfaction, in addition to performance. It seems to me that maintaining a measure of flexibility regarding lateral transfers within the con staff would be an integral mechanism to preserving the vitality of the con as a whole.

Any staff member should be able to request a lateral transfer from their director. At that point, it would become the director's responsibility to find the best fit for that staff member, communicating as needed with the secretary or other directors to make that happen.


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Are there comparable processes for vertical transfers (within the same department, but either moving to a position of higher or lower responsibility)? (Examples: Someone starts in good faith as a Coordinator, but something unexpected comes up like a need for surgery or a pregnancy or something that makes them have less time available; or someone starts as basic staff but shows potential to handle more responsibility.) Thanks!
(BTW: My idea was that we'd get more feedback if we had an Exit Interview form available, thereby condoning the input; but yes, to have it be totally voluntary.)

In short - yes. Open communication between the staff member involved and their director is, however, as always, vital.

I like the exit interview form idea, as well - I would certainly be in support of making that sort of opportunity for written input available to staff members who are leaving the con. I believe that collecting this input from any willing staff members would provide us with a definitive opportunity to increase staff retention and job satisfaction in the future.