Job Descriptions: Not For the Feint-Of-Heart

Thanks to Cincinnati Inquirer music critic Janelle Gelfand for pointing me toward the job description for the President & CEO position at the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. It just so happens that writing job descriptions is a live-it, breathe-it, and eat-it sort of thing in my Area-51 project so her timing couldn’t be better…

Reading a well crafted job description is always fun and if you know
how to read between the lines, a potential candidate can learn a great
deal about the organization. In the case of the Cincinnati Symphony CEO
job description, you don’t have to be Sherlock Holmes to figure out
what’s going on. Here are a couple of excerpts (emphasis added) to give
you a better idea:

  • "Administer, oversee and direct a $34 million arts and entertainment operation and assure financial goals are met through increasing attendance and revenues." – anyone
    care to guess what the organization thinks about the current attendance levels?
  • "Proven change management experience." – a quality after my own heart…
  • "Resource Management: In a resource-constrained environment"  – that’s a new management-speak term for me…

Give the entire job description a read and weigh-in with your own thoughts and observations.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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