Tchaikovsky and Culture – can you identify it?

December 24, 2019

“It’s the arrangement of the wonderfully crafted melody which sits over the well-developed chord patterns. As you listen to the music you can see the imagery in your head that the composer intended you to envision.”

“I don’t feel that way listening to it. In fact, that’s the problem with classical music, it all just sounds the same to me.”

This was the conversation I was having with a colleague after I excitedly proclaimed my wife and I were going to see the Nutcracker at Christmas.  I tried to convince her to book Nutcracker tickets for 2020 but her preference was to talk about Glastonbury and rap artists.  I walked away gobsmacked she said classical music “all sounds the same”.  As I was thinking about our discussion, it hit me – she couldn’t identify with the music I liked.  I grew up listening to this genre of music and regularly attend orchestra concerts because my wife plays flute in an orchestra.  It made me reflect on what individuals identify with, which led me to ponder why culture is such an important part of an organisation’s DNA. 

Culture is such a tricky aspect to establish, never mind get right.  Most firms will have a set of values or vision statements, that will have been carefully constructed to showcase the type of people they have in their firm, and to influence talent to join who identify with their ideologies.  I’m sure you’ve noticed that the values companies proudly proclaim on their websites are always positive.  Collaborative, innovative, pragmatic, leaders, agile and unique seem to be common trends.  I can guarantee you that not all employers who state that they are collaborative actually are.  However, they aren’t going to write on their set of values “uncooperative, tedious and just down right mean” are they?! 

That’s why it’s so important when you’re seeking your next career move to understand the firm’s culture, and actually identify with it.  This means not only looking on their website to clarify what their vision is for the future, but speaking to your contacts in the market to seek clarity on the way the firm operates and the people in the team.  It also means going in to speak to the hiring manager and seeing the offices first-hand. It’s about ensuring your own personal character and morals have synergies with the firm’s values.  Boldly exclaiming “I’ll never work in financial services again because I worked in a bulge bracket bank once and everyone was so cut-throat” is the equivalent of saying “I’ll never listen to Beethoven because I listened to Stravinsky once and I hated it” (trust me, Stravinsky is not for the faint of heart).

Culture is driven by people, so ultimately you need to ensure the colleagues you work with have the values of the firm ebbing through their veins so the workplace you work in is harmonious.  The only way you’ll truly establish this is by speaking to your head hunter to give you examples of how the culture of their client has manifested itself, and backing that up by going onsite and seeing this for yourself.  So perhaps next time you’re about to utter the words “I’m not someone who wants to work in a law firm because I had a terrible experience with my solicitor”, you might think again…and perhaps you’ll book Nutcracker tickets next year…

It’s been a pleasure working with you in 2019.  All the best for 2020, drop me a line and let’s grab a coffee to discuss what culture you’re seeking in your next career move.