Friday, 29 April 2016

Reflection On My Current Networks And Its Ethical Problems

What is my current network?
I first drew a diagram of what my network on board the ship is. However, if one has not worked on a ship it will hold virtually no meaning so I am going to explain as simply as I can.

Professionally my network is vast and very complicated. We have a network within our cast. Dancers report to the Dance Captain for anything relating to the show and dancers report to the Production Manager with anything in regard to duties, shows, costumes, conflicts, personal issues, etc.. Between dancers, singers, Dance Captain and Production Manager communication is generally informal. Our only tools to communicate are face to face, cabin telephones (fixed phones), personal phones whilst not in passenger area and if we have reception, and through ship mobiles that can only be used on board the ship and will only connect to other ship mobiles and ship fixed phones on that ship.  Because we are always together, we share cabins with each other, we eat together and we go out together, we can be informal with each other. There is a fine line drawn between when we are assuming our roles as Production Manager/Dance Captain and dancer or singer and when we are being social. Sometimes these lines can become blurred and sometimes people have a hard time between being friends and being work colleagues.
From our network within the cast, our Production Manager then follows the network up through our department on board, our department in the offices ashore and into other departments on the ship. All of the dancers may contact our boss or the assistant in the onshore office by the ship email to which only the Production Manager has access, as well as technicians etc., so it is not a private correspondence and can be read by anyone with access. Therefore, we are all able to use our personal email to contact our boss in the office, because we are all self employed we are all able to take care of our own business privately and communication between us and our boss is generally formal but not strictly so. 
We also have a network within the theatre. Any of us can speak to the Head Technician, Stage Manager or any of the Stage Hands, Light Technician, Sound Technician, etc if there is any kind of problem during technical rehearsals or shows, but if it is not an immediate thing then we have to go through the Production Manager who then goes to the Head Technician who then goes to the Stage Manager, Light Technician, etc..
The Production Manager's next interaction must then be with the Assistant Cruise Director or the Cruise Director. Dancers may speak directly to the Cruise Director or the Assistant Cruise Director if they are having problems with the Production Manager or Dance Captain. There is direct interaction with the Chief Animator, Shop Manager and Photoshop Manager with the Production Manager but here things are done by ship mobile if it is an emergency about time changes to duties or help to do something, otherwise, most of the communication at this point is through email and the Cruise Director and Assistant Cruise director must always be copied into any email that is sent from the Production Manager or to the Production Manager. If there are problems on board that we need to alert our boss to, as Production Manager we sometimes have to use our private email owing to not being able to keep the ship emails private and it might cause big problems for the cast on board if someone's ego is bruised. 
From this point, the Cruise Director can go directly to the onshore office or further up the ship. From the Cruise Director there is then the Hotel Director, the Staff Captain and then the Captain. 
We are all also under the command of any Officer; Cadet, 3rd Officer, 2nd Officer, 1st Officer, Safety Trainer, Safety Officer and Environmental Officer. These people are in charge of the safety and environmental safety of everyone on board and we are all trained to do what they say and when, with no questions asked.

Below is a diagram of the direct hierarchy of our network chain on board. 

Another diagram to show how we communicate with other personnel within our department and other departments is much more complicated. A simpler way is to say that our central point where all the information that involves the cast is given directly to the Cruise Director or the Assistant Cruise Director and then passed down to the Production Manager and then to the rest of the cast.

Here is another diagram showing the network of the theatre personnel and how it changes during rehearsals and performances.

As you can see, it is quite a complicated chain and there can be quite serious consequences if one does not follow it. The issue of bruising egos is quite a big problem as people I've worked with will often abuse their position of power in order to make our lives difficult and to get their own back for whatever slight they believe that we have caused them. Extra boat drills and meetings can be scheduled as well as arranging to have dancers do extra duties and not allowing us to swap our duties with other members in our department, like the animation team. This kind of situation sometimes means that it is impossible for us to do rehearsals with a full cast. One such occasion of a Cruise Director's ego being bruised meant that our tech run for the shows that night, and for several cruises after, which is normally done with a cast of 14/15, turned into a tech run where there were at least 5 people missing at all times and sometimes as many as 7 missing during the tech run and we were expected to perform the shows that night without being allowed our proper rehearsal time. 

Another example was the stage being a slippy wooden surface and the continuation it's being polished just before our show. I was the Production Manager at the time and on my report to the offices ashore I explained that despite my asking them for several months not to polish the floor before our performances, the floors were still being polished which was a safety risk to all the dancers. This made the Cruise Director angry because he said that it wasn't  true and I had made him look bad. Unfortunately I had evidence of my emails asking them not to polish the floor for several months so unfortunately for the Cruise Director it was true. But my involving the office made the Cruise Director sort out the floor and luckily his ego wasn't bruised so much that he made life difficult for us.

There is also a problem of communication being done in a language that is not everybody's native tongue so things get lost in translation and there are misunderstandings. I have a few experiences of this but the most vivid is with a French Assistant Cruise Director. We had a misunderstanding of times of rehearsals which was easily solved once the Assistant Cruise Director and I had spoken face to face and sorted out exactly what she had meant when we had spoken very early in the morning by telephone. Unfortunately another non English person, a Cruise Director, got involved and I'm afraid that he totally flew off the handle and was extremely rude and almost violent! I must admit to finding it pathetic to watch a grown man totally lose his temper over something that was no problem at all and was solved in 10 seconds! His professional conduct was disgraceful but, as he was the Cruise Director for the charter company we were working with at the time, his behavior was considered acceptable and the "lowly" cast members were required to take his abuse so that the company would keep their charter. 

Which brings me to another issue of my professional network. The company I work for is very macho and has little respect if they are dealing with a female Production Manager. With a company such as this, it is best, if one is female, to have a lot of friends in every department and high up in hierarchy eg, officers, engineers, Captain, Hotel Director, Cruise Director, etc., or to be the kind of Production Manager that lets everyone walk all over them. The cast can easily be walked over by other departments asking us to help out as we do get quite a bit of spare time. An example of being walked over would be asking dancers to be up at 6:00 am for disembarkation duty when they only finished the show at midnight and when disembarkation duty is actually the job of the animation team. It is especially not fair to ask us to do this when we then see all the animation team getting off the ship to go to the beach while we do their job for them! This is something that would never be asked of a male Production Manager. It is a shame that things are this way in my company. Sometimes I find it easy to operate as a Production Manager and every thing and everyone just gels together. Other times it can be very difficult to balance satisfying the cast members one is representing and satisfying the demands of those people above us.

As one will have observed, I give no names or mention of the cruise company or charter company involved. This is to protect myself and my company.

1 comment:

  1. Yes agree a complicated chain - but diagramed well. You would be interested int some of the Module 3 finalists works about touring (Francesca) and leadership (Granger).