5 Reasons Handle Pay Like a Conductor
I recently took my son to see the ballet. He was less interested in the dancers than the musicians, and he was the most interested in the conductor. The dancers wore costumes and moved all over the stage. The musicians had instruments that made the music. The conductor stood in one place waving a stick while not dancing or making any music. My son was fascinated. He was even more interested when we went down during intermission and he found out he was the “honorary conductor” for that performance. This is why you should be a “Conductor of Compensation.”
1. The conductor’s job is making everyone else better.
Every musician will tell you that a great conductor can draw a better performance than an average one. They provide insight, emotion and energy to everyone involved. The best conductors are also aware when someone needs help or a little more time. They contour the performance of the group to match the strengths of the soloist and they ensure that the music uplifts the visual presentation, rather than overshadow it.
HR and Compensation exist to make everyone better. Be a conductor.
Imagine Harry Potter without this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RHhHOftZKBU
2. A great conductor knows what everyone is doing, what they should be doing, what they will be doing and why all of that is important to success.
Only a few people know what a specific Accountant, Level 3, in the Dubuque office does as a third level responsibility at the end of each quarter. They are like the fifth percussionist counting time for 12 minutes while preparing for crucial strike of a gong in the last measure of the song. The conductor must track this while leading everyone else. As they say, if it was easy, everyone could do it.
Here’s a fun article about musicians wanted more pay, because they play more notes. https://www.theguardian.com/music/2004/mar/25/classicalmusicandopera1
3. Conductors are consummate communicators.
During rehearsals most conductors speak to musicians frequently. Everything they do is dependent upon everyone else understanding their approach, their goals and the nuance that transforms notes on a page to something that can change people perception. Imagine if we cared about communication this much. Imagine if you took the time to ensure that everyone understood your pay programs as well as musicians understand the score. Even as the performance is happening the conductor keeps communicating. You will never see a conductor stop conducting during a performance. It’s something we can all do better.
This takes 20 minutes, but it’s worth it (start at 5:45 to save some time). https://www.ted.com/talks/itay_talgam_lead_like_the_great_conductors
4. The best conductors lead, teach and inspire while keeping everyone on task.
They aren’t just waving their arms. They are reminding each musician of everything they have ever learned and everything the conductor has asked them to do in rehearsals. Your work isn’t about your work, it’s about the results of everyone else work. You simultaneously must give people the room to perform, while also ensuring that they meet their job responsibilities. Of course, you can’t manager each person, but your work in aligning job structures, pay structures, incentive plans, performance management and merit increases are essential in guiding those who do the direct management.
5. It’s a great way to keep in shape.
You will seldom see a conductor who looks like the weakest person in the room. The work is just too hard. They burn calories like we burn the midnight oil during comp planning season. Most conductors change their shirts, and sometimes more, during intermission. They also study in the time we aren’t watching. The best, know literally every note, every dynamic, every phrasing and more. Their brains are kept sharp, their bodies work hard, and their emotional state must run as wide and deep as the music they are leading.
And Gustavo Dudamel… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHqtJH2f1Yk
Great music and great musicians improve a conductor, but a great conductor can make nearly any combination of music and musicians a listening experience. Whether you realize it or not, you have been conducting for a while. Now is your chance to take advantage of it.