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Forrest Rodgers' Response to Final Report

Forrest Rodgers' Response to Final Report

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Published by inlanderweb
Response from Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture Executive Director Forrest Rodgers, regarding the leadership investigation.
Response from Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture Executive Director Forrest Rodgers, regarding the leadership investigation.

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Published by: inlanderweb on Sep 11, 2013
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09/14/2013

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May2013ComplaintandInvestigationintoExecutiveDirector’sLeadershipForrestRodgers’ResponsetoFinalReport
1
July28,2013To:ExecutiveCommitteeFrom:ForrestRodgersRe:ResponsetoFinalReportAll–FollowingismyresponsetoScottNicholson’sfinalreport;itisintendedtoprovideyouwithadditionalcontextfor,andinsightintomyeffortstoleadtheMACbeyondterminationandreinstatement,andtowardourCentennial.
IronyofGenderDiscriminationCharges
Between2009and2012,sixoftheemployees“marginalized,”ostracizedorterminatedweremaleortribal(orboth)orgay.WhileIdonotbelievethisdemonstratesintentionalgenderdiscriminationonthepartoftheCEOorstaffleadership,Idothinkitreflectsadangerousdegreeofculturalconformitythatfears,andactivelyundermineschangeefforts.Newexpertise,skillsandprioritiesthreatenthestatusquo–whereunacceptablylowattendanceandcommunitysupportputthefutureatrisk,butwherepersonneldecisionsarebasedonrelationshipsratherthanresults.
MyLeadershipStyle
The“turnaround”IledattheHighDesertMuseumwasachievedbybeingfuture-focused,data-drivenandresults-oriented.Myleadershipapproachwastoset
strategy
,builda
structure
tosupportit,andredeployorrecruit
staff 
toimplement.Thechangestrategywasto
sense
thechallenges(decliningattendanceandearned/donatedincome),
shape
anewvisionandmission,
shift 
theorganization(redeployhumanandfinancialresourcesandsetclearaccountabilities)and
track 
results.Eachmemberoftheleadershipteamhadwrittenaccountabilities,andIworkedwitheachmemberindividuallytodevelopwrittencommitmentsforhowwewouldworktogether.WhenIarrivedattheMACinSeptember2011,therewerenowrittenperformanceevaluationsoftheseniorstaff[Bertis,Bishop,DrexelandThayer].Aftermy“orientation”months,IdevelopedformalperformanceplansforJanuary-June2012,butonlyhadonereviewwitheachpriortomyterminationonApril24,2012.
 
May2013ComplaintandInvestigationintoExecutiveDirector’sLeadershipForrestRodgers’ResponsetoFinalReport
 2
GeneralResponsetoEmployeeComplaints
InthetwoweekspriortoherSeptember28,2012departure,LauraThayerrevisedPositionDescriptionsandFY2013Performance&DevelopmentPlans(PDPs)fordirectreportsMarshaRooney,DavidBrum,ValWahl,RoseKrause,HeidiArbogastandGingerEwing.Atthistime,Iwasfocusedonreducingtheproposed$425,000operatingdeficitandmeetingwithkeystakeholders(donorsandlocallegislators)torepairtheMAC’sreputationandprepareforthe2013Legislativesession.Thayer,whohadtoldProgramStaffthattheproposedbudgetwasan“investorclose”offer,wroteannualplanswiththeassumptionthattheBoardwouldfundtwonewpermanentfull-timepositions–anInterpretiveProgramManagerandCollectionsRegistrar.Shedidnotofferanysuggestionsforreducingtheproposeddeficit.Infact,hermajorconcernwasthatIdecidedtoeliminatea$40,000downpaymentforthe
SoulfulCreatures( 
Egyptiananimalsarcophagi)travelingexhibit.OfthesixplansThayerprepared,onlytwoaddressed“professionaldevelopmentneeds.”DavidBrumaskedto“discussfurtherhowbesttoshapemycareergoalsmovingforwardwithmycurrentjob,andtoblendthesewiththeneedsoftheinstitution,”andRoseKrausesoughtto“increaseknowledgeofNAGPRApoliciesandprocedures.”ThistrainingforallProgramStaffoccurredinOctober.Toreducetheproposed$425,000operatingdeficitto$96,000,wedecidedtoleavevacantThayer’sposition[MuseumProgramManager]andGingerEwing’sposition[AmericanIndianEducator].IassumedsupervisoryresponsibilityforProgramStaffandbeganattendingweeklymeetingswhenpossible,emphasizingthatmyhighestprioritiesweretore-engagedonorsandkeystakeholders,andsecureStatefundingforthe2013-15biennium.BecauseProgramStaffhaddevelopedstrongcollaborativeskills,hadnewannualplans,andaprioritytocompleteSpoMAforitsMarch2opening,ItoldthemIbelievedtheyshouldbeabletoworkeffectivelywithoutactive,muchless,day-to-daysupervision.TogiveProgramStaffadditionalsupportduringthistransitionalperiod,Iinitiatedthe
DiagnosticAssessment 
toassessstaffcapabilities,thepotentialforintegratingtheMAC’sthreecontentstrands,andopportunitiestoachieveefficienciesandeconomiesinfutureexhibits.Concurrently,IworkedwithDES/HRconsultantMarilynMcNeiltoidentifyandproposesolutionstostaffconfusionandconcernsovermyterminationand
 
May2013ComplaintandInvestigationintoExecutiveDirector’sLeadershipForrestRodgers’ResponsetoFinalReport
3
reinstatement.McNeilinterviewedallstaffandseveralkeypartners.Duringthisprocess,shelearnedofincidentsthatoccurredduringmyabsenceandrequiredaformalinvestigation;whencompleted,theindividualsinvolvedwereinformedofthefindings,butMcNeilandIdecidednottotakeformalactionagainstthem.ThroughoutOctoberandearlyNovember,ImetwithProgramStafftodiscusstheBoard-approvedpriorityto“reinventthevisitorexperience”anditsimplications.Duringtheseconversations,onememberasked“Whyisattendancesoimportant,itmakesupsolittleofourbudget?”Othersquestionedattendancedataandrejectedteacherfeedbackthatamajorreasonfordeclinesinschoolvisitswasthelackof“semi-permanent”exhibitstheycouldincorporateintoannualplans.TheProgramStaff’scollectivereasoningforpoorattendancewas“we’velostsomanystaff”and“we’reallsooverworked.Onesaid,“I’mtiredofworking65hoursaweek.”InNovember,McNeilreportedthatstaffwasdividedovermyterminationandreinstatement;sheobservedthatmostexpressedaninterestin“movingforward,”andencouragedmetoincreaseoutreachandinformalcommunicationwithstaff.AtthenextAllStaffmeeting,Ipubliclyacknowledgedthecriticismsofmyleadershipandcommunicationstyle,andbegandescribinghowIwouldworktoadaptmystyletotheexistingculture.AProgramStaffmemberinterruptedme,sayingshewas“uncomfortable”withtheconversation,effectivelypre-emptinganypossibleopendiscussionoftheissues.InDecember,McNeilencouragedmetohireamanagementconsultanttohelpaddressinternalconflictsbetweenProgramStaffandothers,supportmyleadershipwithoutinhibitingtheneedforchange,andformaneffectiveleadershipteam.IdiscussedwiththeExecutiveCommitteemyconcernsaboutthecostanddoubtsthattheinvestmentwouldaddresstheunderlyinginterestsofProgramStaff,andtheMuseumServicesandCommunication&PRmanagers.InJanuary,IbeganworkingwithProgramStaffandMcNeiltodevelopandsecureDESapprovalofthepositiondescriptionforaDirectorofMuseumExperience.TheDirectorwouldbeaccountableforre-imaginingtheMAC,increasingvisitor-drivenincomeandinspiringdonors.However,knowingthepositionwouldnotbefilleduntilSeptemberattheearliest,theBoardapprovedmyrequesttoengageRenateforexhibitdesign&developmentconsulting.

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