E. Anna Szegedi 2021 Q&A: Board Work/Communication

[Note: In total, there will be 3 Q&A posts to cover all of the topics brought up during the user-submitted Q&A period. Candidates were limited to 300 words per answer.]

Being on Board, you will experience periods of high-volume, high-stress work, and receive feedback ranging from thankful and enthusiastic to angry and hostile. Have you thought about what self-care routines and support systems you might need to have in place to maintain good mental health during your term?

My current day job is one where I encounter people from a wide variety of backgrounds. Due to the nature of the work I do, I do have to deal with disappointed, angry or sometimes even downright rude emails from people. I hope that my experience in handling these at my day job has prepared me for dealing with similar issues in Board.

I have always been committed to leaving work at my office desk and always making sure to take time for myself, just to relax and spend time with my hobbies. I intend to keep doing this, since most of my self-care routines are just that: parts of my everyday life that I cannot imagine not doing – like taking my dog on a long walk every day. I would be barked at, if I tried skipping even one day. 🙂

The board isn’t very accessible to members that are not also volunteers. One example of this is the infrequency of public meetings. What do you think the board can do to be more accessible and accountable to paying members?

Board currently has public meetings that everyone interested can attend. Aside from that, our general contact form includes an option to contact Board directly.

In my current position, the easiest way seem to be an increase in the number of public meetings, and maybe the implementation of a newsletter sent out to members regularly.

The OTW Board often has to speak with one consistent voice when answering questions and requests from the public, individual volunteers, and various committees. This sometimes means enforcing policies for the good of the OTW that may go against your personal preferences. How would you balance this need for consistency?

As I have mentioned in my previous set of Q&A answers, I do not believe that my personal taste and opinions are any more important than anybody else’s. This of course extends to Board work as well.

I am wholly aware that my wishes and preferences will not always line up with the overall goals and actions taken by Board. However, I believe myself to be able to separate my own preferences from Board work.

Committees with heavy workloads vs available volunteers like AD&T and PAC don’t seem to recruit as much as other committees (like Tag Wranglers). Should the board get involved in directing/monitoring recruitment cycles if individual committees have more work than their volunteer base can handle and aren’t recruiting?

When it comes to recruitment, each committee’s chairs make the decisions about how often they’d like to recruit, and for what positions. Translation and Tag Wrangling recruit the most often, but in Translation’s case this still does not mean that we end up accepting new volunteers for all open language teams in all recruitment rounds. There are multiple reasons for this: the main one being that even if we open a language team for recruitment, there is no guarantee that we will receive applications for them. We can only recruit new volunteers if there is an interest for the position, after all.

As for other committees: some of them require a very specific skillset from their volunteers (like AD&T), which means that even if they recruit, they have a harder time of getting new volunteers. Still, opening recruitment is up to the individual committees – I trust that committee chairs know their volunteers well enough to know when they need to recruit.

Is there anything y’all have learned within OTW/AO3 that you didn’t know before?

One of the most useful skills I learnt as a Translation volunteer manager is organising trainings and meetings around different time zones. This skill became invaluable in my day job last year, when we had to move the majority of our tasks to online platforms. Being already aware of what tools can help managing time zones made learning to adjust to my new tasks much easier.

My experience being a volunteer manager allowed me to bring new management systems into my day job, all of which we still use.

[Note: All questions from members and candidate responses appear in the form they were submitted and represent only the views of the individual who wrote them. Questions and responses are not endorsed by the Organization for Transformative Works.]