I’ve been struggling for a big part of my career trying to figure out why some thrive in chaos at the workplace while others simply hate how the office operates and have to conjure up lots of energy just to coexist with their own team mates, other departments and even management.
A lot of people say it’s a ‘fit’ thing. Chemistry. But what is this fit? What is this chemistry? How can we spot it early? What does it even look like?
Earlier this year while visiting one of our office in the region, I was invited to join a manager’s appraisal as he had a dotted line to me. I obliged. He was an experienced, talented and dedicated staff. He really likes the company, but had legitimate complaints too. His main gripe was around the organization not having a clear articulated structure, no clear communicated direction. He felt as if it was all reactive, everyone is winging it, all improvisation.
Then it struck me.
There are 2 kinds of musicians. Those who love the freedom and improvising to the mood in a Jazz band and those who feel more comfortable to excel in a big scale structured symphony orchestra.
A Jazz player will hate it in a symphony orchestra, while someone who have confidence the whole team have clear scores to a music piece won’t do well in a Jazz band.
The Jazz Band
I’ve been in a Jazz band type company for the longest time and I love it. The organization is fairly flat, bosses allow you flexibility and lots of autonomy to bring on your own initiatives and provides you support.
Everyone has a clear role, but sometimes we can mix it up. Who says the double bass can’t be the lead? Who says the the bassist can’t do some percussion on his guitar? Who says the trumpeter can’t suddenly break out in dance?
Similar characters in different teams work well together and have that unspoken syncopated understanding with one another. There is trust that others will commit and deliver, there is fear also because sometimes you have to do your solo and everyone is depending on you. However there is support and forgiveness, mistakes are brushed aside because the show must go on and we are all having so much fun anyway.
The Symphony Orchestra
There is a conductor. Everyone have scores in front of them, the performance starts on time and everyone has a specific role at a specific time with specific intensity.
Each committing to their precise parts and after multiple practices then comes performance time. There is confidence in the team as everyone have perfected what they needed to do, everyone is a specialist, they commit to what they set out to do and they don’t try to change the plan halfway. When everything is executed as planned, it’s a symphony that gives you goosebumps and there will be high fives all around later backstage.
If you feel you are a promising talent, a diamond in the rough, someone who can achieve much, then quickly figure out if you fit a Jazz band or a Symphony Orchestra and find the right type of organization to flourish in. Most likely you will have similar seniors, structures that fit your ways of working.
But if you ain’t got no talent and not practicing your craft to become better consistently and just want to cruise along and take a ride along the success of others, get out of my band and trust me, you can’t hide in a symphony orchestra either.
BA DUM TSS!!