How often do growing organizations want smaller management teams?

As organizations get bigger and better, it seems normal for the size of their management teams to grow, too. Not so for the Dunedin Music Society, which is scaling back the frequency of its meetings and the size of its leadership teams to aid more flexibility and opportunities to serve.

When businesses and community organizations add new products and services, it makes sense to add a representative of those programs to leadership teams, where decisions are made about the parameters within which those programs should operate.

Yet in an “upside-down pyramid” organizational structure, like the one adopted by the Dunedin Music Society, the opposite is more effective.

DMS Management meeting at the Fenway Hotel to focus on future vision and strategy

DMS Management meet at the Fenway Hotel to focus on future vision and strategy

Starting Strong

When Maestro Stephen P. Brown took over the leadership of the Dunedin Concert Band from one individual who did almost all the work singlehandedly, he recruited numerous volunteers to undertake regular small tasks such as setting up chairs for rehearsals and concerts, writing documents, recording attendance, sharing events on social media, and sorting the sheet music. But one requirement of the City of Dunedin Parks & Recreation Department was that Brown convert the club into a 501(c)(3) public charity, which he did by mobilizing a steering committee of performers, audience members, government representatives and others from the community. It would have been far easier to fill in the blanks on the State’s simple template form, but Brown knew that this new not-for-profit organization was going to be bigger and better than a one-man operation.

Once the organization’s structure was established and written into the Constitution and Bylaws, it didn’t take long for leadership teams to expand, making the organization somewhat top-heavy.

Post-COVID Management

Now, post-COVID, as the DMS continues adding advanced, proficient and novice performing ensembles, new certification courses, a variety of music-related workshops, as well as support services for other music organizations in the region, it became very clear to Brown as the DMS General Director – a position that combines the responsibilities of both the Artistic and Executive Director – that less interference by leaders was needed.

Of course, rules and regulations must be followed, and a unified message and image are essential for any organization of integrity, yet the Maestro began to wonder if large team meetings in which individuals sat silent for long periods of time were actually necessary.

Fortunately, the Bylaws gave Brown a way to eliminate the misuse of volunteers’ time and energy that could eventually lead to burnout. In the Bylaws, official roles for each of the Directors on the lean governing Board are listed, as are the responsibilities for operational functions such as Audience Relations, Performer Relations, Member Relations, and so on. The chairpersons in these roles, and a few others, are the “doers” of the DMS who make sure everyone in their area has what they need to connect local communities with live music – the DMS’ mission and mantra. These roles make up a separate Executive Committee or, as Brown likes to call it, the “Executive Director’s Committee.”

Size Matters

A team of volunteers for one of the Dunedin Music Society’s most active programs meet at the Fenway Hotel as they discuss and agree on future plans and expectations.

A team of volunteers for one of the Dunedin Music Society’s most active programs meet at the Fenway Hotel as they discuss and agree on future plans and expectations.

“Instead of fourteen various volunteers all vying for attention and resources and attending long meetings,” Brown said, “we just needed a handful of service-minded individuals to implement policies and assign resources.” Instead, he could work directly with the individual Program Managers responsible for coordinating ensembles, workshops, projects or events when they needed help, and they could simply get on with their work without committee interference.

In other words, a smaller management team means everyone can make decisions within the agreed boundaries much more efficiently and effectively.

Adjusting the natural growth of management within the DMS has also led to attrition, which, in combination with so many individuals reconsidering their life’s work following last year’s isolation period, has left some positions on the Executive Committee open for service-minded, action-taking, decision-making volunteer teammates.

Available volunteer management positions:

  • Logistics – making sure equipment is where it needs to be and venues are accessible;
  • Audience Relations – making sure programs are printed, ushers are trained, and counting donations;
  • Community Relations – making sure the DMS is represented at local organizations and functions, and our online presence is current and correct.

The rewards for professionals who volunteer their time, energy and expertise in these roles are certainly visible in the ongoing expansion of the DMS and the services it provides residents, visitors and newcomers to Pinellas County.

Passionate individuals interested in committing to one of the Executive Committee positions currently available are encouraged to APPLY HERE or leave a message at 727.800.3727