Job Cultures



  • What is the "culture" of your job like?

    What I mean by "culture" is the character of the company for which you work; the kind of non-quantifiable aspects you can't ascertain until you actually work there for a while.  You might be able to get a hint or have some intuition about the environment based on the industry, job description, interviews, etc---but that stuff is all basically the equivalent of a first impression when meeting and getting to know a person (i.e., just like a person, you can't really know them very well until you've spent a fair amount of time with them).

    I've worked only two jobs since graduating college (seven years ago), and seen vastly different cultures.  One was at a huge manufacturing corporation: basically Dilbert, but I worked with a lot of like-minded people.  People generally worked hard and wanted to do the right thing, but the job wasn't their passion.  People generally got along, and there was enough socialization/"fun" times to offset the bureaucracy and other WTFs.  Now I'm at a small, fairly tightly run trading company, so there are few WTFs.  However, everyone basically works in isolation, and for most people, this is their passion, i.e. there is no real interest in anything outside work---virtually no socialization/"fun" times.

    I'm just curious what the culture/environment is like where other people work.  I've seen what I consider two fairly distict "company characters" and wonder which is closer to the norm, or if it's all over the map, basically luck of the draw.  A final consideration: if your current situation isn't ideal, what would you envision as the ideal?

     



  • We have many sub cultures here.  The DBA's are almost exclusively russian.  Community relations is mostly comprised of african american's and hispanics.  Provider relations is a mix.  Claims is populated mainly by various asian ethnicities as is Development (I'm the only white guy aside from my boss).  Reporting and Analysis is mostly white and jewish and guys from India. Around 7am is likes yoga around the world...  Yes my work culture is a giant racial stereotype. I can hear 15 different languages any given day.  It's actually pretty cool. 



  • @galgorah said:

    We have many sub cultures here.  The DBA's are almost exclusively russian.  Community relations is mostly comprised of african american's and hispanics.  Provider relations is a mix.  Claims is populated mainly by various asian ethnicities as is Development (I'm the only white guy aside from my boss).  Reporting and Analysis is mostly white and jewish and guys from India. Around 7am is likes yoga around the world...  Yes my work culture is a giant racial stereotype. I can hear 15 different languages any given day.  It's actually pretty cool. 

     

     :)  Interesting.  Although, what I meant was a more generic or perhaps figurative meaning of "culture": not as in nationality, race, color, religion or whatever; but instead, the character of the group in which you work.  E.g., the DBAs might all be Russian, but how do they interact with each other, and the other groups?  What is their work ethic like?  What hours do they keep?

    Also, I wasn't clear, but I meant the culture of the group or team of which you are a part, not necessarily the whole company.  For me, my current company is so small that "company" and team/group are practically synonymous.  But trying to answer this question for my previous employer as a whole would be impossible because of its size.

    Anyway, perhaps another way to phrase my question is: what kind of attitudes do the people around you have towards each other, towards the business, towards the work itself?  What are inter-personal relationships like?  If you were to hire someone for your group, what kind of personality would be the best fit?  Or, does personality even matter?

    Another example from my experience: the previous employer looked for certain "types" of people; they were big on making sure people had necessary "soft" skills, such as, able to work as a team, able to deal with difficult people, able to communicate clearly (spoken and written), leadership potential, etc.  The current company is more focused on "hard" skills---how good of a programmer are you?

     



  • But here racial/ethnic culture plays a huge role.  everyone works the same hours but sleep varies.  Stereotypes abound and mix to create the company culture.  For example our DBA's are very reserved.  Don't like anyone nosing around in their stuff lest you incur the wrath of the mother land.  I often act as go between since I am apparently on their good side (my girlfriend is russian and they seem to trust me more as a result.  don't ask me why they base their opinion on that one). 


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @galgorah said:

    The DBA's are almost exclusively russian.  Community relations is mostly comprised of african american's and hispanics.  Provider relations is a mix.  Claims is populated mainly by various asian ethnicities as is Development (I'm the only white guy aside from my boss).  Reporting and Analysis is mostly white and jewish and guys from India.

    Careful, you're starting to sound like tube rodent.



  • @PJH said:

    Careful, you're starting to sound like tube rodent.

     

    They tuk ar jobs!



  •  @amischiefr said:

    They tuk ar jobs!
    They tuk ar- oh, wait, I'm not american... Tek ther jobs!



  • Beyond a certain threshold, you don't have a community, you have a series of sub-communities.

    I work at Microsoft. Not for Microsoft; I'm a contractor. There is a culture of Microsoft FTEs (Full Time Employees, who have blue security badges), and a culture of contractors (who have orange security badges). This is explicitly noticed, and people refer to being hired for an FTE position as "blue badging". This contractor culture is subdivided into the "vendor" culture (people with v- at the beginning of their @microsoft.com email) and the "agency" culture (people with, you guessed it, a- at the beginning of their email). This difference is also explicitly noticed, and it is not uncommon to be asked "are you a v-dash or an a-dash?" once someone establishes that you are an orange badge. Each individual vendor or agency, in turn, has its own culture.

    As you have no doubt gathered, this is a complete mess.

    However, it only matters socially. Another person at Microsoft may care whether you have a blue or an orange badge, whether you are a v-dash or an a-dash, and which particular vendor or agency employs you. But that's the person, and their personal thought process - once you relate from a professional standpoint, it evaporates. The moment you walk into a meeting, nobody gives a flying leap. It is tremendously unlikely that you will be given great responsibility as a contractor, regardless of vendor or agency status, but what responsibility you are given is entirely yours. When you need the answer to a question, you can go to anyone that might be able to answer it. You can take the shuttle to the appropriate building, walk up to Steve Ballmer's office, and knock on the door if you feel like it. You'll get your arse handed to you if it's inappropriate, but you have the full and complete right to decide for yourself whether you think it is. Just don't be wrong. But right up till the very moment you turn out to be wrong, management will grease the wheels and clear the way and give you every opportunity to prove yourself right.

    And that's what really, honestly, rocks about working here: you have the tools at your disposal to do whatever needs to be done. Not to mention, where else are you going to write code that might change the world? Even on the lowest levels, where you implement the most miniscule little trivial feature, where else can you write code that sits on over a billion desktops?

    I love it here. I'd like nothing more than to work here for the rest of my career. Hell, if I didn't need the money, I'd work here for free.



  • @CDarklock said:

    where else can you write code that sits on over a billion desktops?

     

    RSA Labs.

     

     As an aside, when I worked at Microsoft I was a "b-dash" and I had a purple badge.  Everyone thought it was really cool because they had never seen it before.



  • @CDarklock said:

    Just don't be wrong. But right up till the very moment you turn out to be wrong, management will grease the wheels and clear the way and give you every opportunity to prove yourself right.

     

    What happens if you're wrong?

    How about when you were new.  What were you given in the way of direction, support, training, mentoring, if any?

    Thanks for the interesting reply!



  • @tster said:

    when I worked at Microsoft I was a "b-dash" and I had a purple badge.  Everyone thought it was really cool because they had never seen it before.
    Well don't keep us in suspense!  What did they mean??



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @tster said:
    when I worked at Microsoft I was a "b-dash" and I had a purple badge.  Everyone thought it was really cool because they had never seen it before.
    Well don't keep us in suspense!  What did they mean??
    Purple badge? B-dash? Sounds like he's part of the bstorer gayness police department.



  • @Welbog said:

    @belgariontheking said:
    @tster said:
    when I worked at Microsoft I was a "b-dash" and I had a purple badge.  Everyone thought it was really cool because they had never seen it before.
    Well don't keep us in suspense!  What did they mean??
    Purple badge? B-dash? Sounds like he's part of the bstorer gayness police department.
    I don't understand.  Do we police gayness?  Are we gay police officers?  I think I need a mission statement here.  Either way, I'm fairly certain I didn't hire him.



  • @bstorer said:

    @Welbog said:
    @belgariontheking said:
    @tster said:
    when I worked at Microsoft I was a "b-dash" and I had a purple badge.  Everyone thought it was really cool because they had never seen it before.
    Well don't keep us in suspense!  What did they mean??
    Purple badge? B-dash? Sounds like he's part of the bstorer gayness police department.
    I don't understand.  Do we police gayness?  Are we gay police officers?  I think I need a mission statement here.  Either way, I'm fairly certain I didn't hire him.
    I assumed you knew your own job description.



  • @Welbog said:

    @bstorer said:

    @Welbog said:
    @belgariontheking said:
    @tster said:
    when I worked at Microsoft I was a "b-dash" and I had a purple badge.  Everyone thought it was really cool because they had never seen it before.
    Well don't keep us in suspense!  What did they mean??
    Purple badge? B-dash? Sounds like he's part of the bstorer gayness police department.
    I don't understand.  Do we police gayness?  Are we gay police officers?  I think I need a mission statement here.  Either way, I'm fairly certain I didn't hire him.
    I assumed you knew your own job description.

    Ha!  Shows what you know!  I ahve been durnk sincet he jbo intervew!



  • @Matt Garman said:

    What happens if you're wrong?

    I don't know. I just have this vague sense that it would be Very Very Bad.

    @Matt Garman said:

    How about when you were new.  What were you given in the way of direction, support, training, mentoring, if any?

    Depends on the team. Some teams are very organised about their training materials, others just sort of vaguely wave in the direction of someone you could ask if you have any questions. It's up to you, mostly... the information's there, you just have to go get it when you need it. Sometimes that means knowing that person X owns feature Y and sending an email; sometimes it means searching the encyclopedic Sharepoint site your team's tech writer meticulously updates twice daily.



  • @CDarklock said:

    There is a culture of Microsoft FTEs (Full Time Employees, who have blue security badges), and a culture of contractors (who have orange security badges).

    I've found this division exists at a lot of places. When I worked *at* PPG, for example, there was a distinct pecking order for FTE and contractors. As a contractor, I was only allowed to scavanage for leftovers *after* the FTEs picked through and they would explicitly exclude us from certain functions like... cake in the cafeteria. It was pretty funny.

     

    @Matt Garman said:

    What is the "culture" of your job like?

    Well, since you asked... small software consulting company with a culture that centers around "work hard and excel harder." We're all here because we love what we do, want to be the best at what we do, and identify ourselves by our profession (i.e. I am a software developer, not a guy who develops software). 40-hour work week? Sure, maybe if you're going away for the weekend and want to leave early Thursday and take Friday off. Leaving your "work" at the office? Maybe your computer, but you better be solving problems in your sleep and in the shower. Sick leave? No one counts it, but don't even think about getting the rest of us sick.

    Some people are into this, most people aren't. We're the type who "live to work", not who "work to live". One of the first things I tell candidates: "you will work harder than you've ever worked before, you will probably start off earning less than you do now, but if you strive to be the best, then this job will be the best you've ever had."

    Obviously, it's not serious business all time, all day - there's plenty of fun, as I'm sure you've gathered from some of the articles. But at the end of the day, we're all here to work. No xboxes, no pool tables, or stupid "programmer perks" like that. Go to the gym if you need a break. It's healthier.

    One unique bit of culture... the bar. There's the normal stuff plus over fifty different single malt scotches and a dozen or two different non-scotch wiskies. That's generally tapped after 5:00P. The Scotch of the Week (which I'm enjoying as I write this) is the Clynelish 14yo and the Non-Scotch of the Week is Maker's Mark.



  • Our office bar went unused for years since nobody bothered to keep it stocked. A friend of mine and I made a proposal to the partners that we'd run the place in exchange for whatever profit we made, and that's worked rather well. We've since rented a 50" TV, and most Saturdays 20 to 30 people show up to watch whatever game is on.

    We don't really turn a profit, but we do cover our expenses, and I'd like to think we've cheered the place up a bit.



  • I think ours is interesting.  Very large defense contractor, but they indulged in the merger-mania of the late 1990's.  So  now the corporate business is divided up between satellite stuff, airplane/jet stuff, shipbuilding stuff, healthcare stuff, and public safety stuff.  I like to joke that the only thing left to acquire was Time Warner, but in reality it's a ridiculous situation.  They are trying very hard to make all of the divisions adhere to DOD policies and procedures, whether it works well or not.

    Closer to my level, we have a distinct division between the people who support our legacy product and the newer product.  The legacy product is about 30 years old now, has run on a series of 4 hardware platforms (PDP's originally, then Vaxes, Alphas and now Integrity).  In the early 1980's that product dominated the computer aided dispatch software market in the U.S.  Now our market share has plummetted to something like 5%, but our customers who are still using the legacy product are militantly loyal to it.

    So our divided market is probably what drives our divided culture internally.  We have those customers loyal to the old stuff and customers who demand software that runs on Windows.  My coworkers who work on the legacy stuff are very much a niche group.  We're a bunch of cowboy programmers (which I don't necessarily like) who fight to keep corporate dictates from applying to us. Each one of us is a business domain expert, analyst, developer, helpdesk, onsite technician, and occasionally salesman.

    We bring in small amounts, contracts worth under half-million, but lots of them each year, so our group has lots of revenue on the books.  The Windows people always go after the large multi-million dollar contracts, one or two each year, and so far haven't figured out how to keep them profitable.  So even though corporate favors the Windows group, we black dog legacy people are the ones bringing in the money.  



  • @jetcitywoman said:

    The legacy product is about 30 years old now
    Wait... there was software 30 years ago? Didn't they use the abacus back then?



  •  Ha, I think the abacus would have been better.  I've never worked on a PDP, but early in my career did stumble over some documentation and reminiscing by elders.  Apparently you had to shutdown the freaking computer and then restart it in a special backup mode in order to back up the disks.  I cannot imagine running a critical system that needs to run 24 x 7 x 365 on something like that.  I  guess that's why when Vaxes came along, we latched on.

    Another note about cultures to bring us back on topic:  there is no "standard" or "normal" culture.  It's different everywhere you go.  My first programming job was (I thought at the time) horrible.  I liked the work, but management treated everybody like furniture rather than people.  The company was actually in it's death throes, which I didn't realize at the time.  But due to bi-yearly layoffs and people quitting, I went from a coop student to senior programmer in just two years.  The MIS department I hired into went from 7 people to 3.  It was kind of a trial by fire, but looking back on it, my personal career growth while I was there was worth the pain.  I learned a huge amount.

    Another job I had was the complete opposite.  They claimed to value their employees and to hire only the best.  I had a very well-defined job description and wasn't allowed to touch anything outside of that description.  In fact, I practically wasn't allowed to pee without permission.  I quickly figured out that I perform very poorly in that highly-structured, highly-controlled kind of environment.  I am a "rock star" when I'm allowed to juggle lots of projects and take on as much responsibility as I feel capable of.

     



  • @belgariontheking said:

    @tster said:

    when I worked at Microsoft I was a "b-dash" and I had a purple badge.  Everyone thought it was really cool because they had never seen it before.
    Well don't keep us in suspense!  What did they mean??

     

    "Business Guest."  Yeah, not any more descriptive than "b-dash" or "purple badge."   Basically what it meant was that we were there on a temporary project and we were not contractors, interns, or vendors.  It happened to be a project set up through the university I attended, although I think most b-dashes are people from other companies who come to work on a collaboration project and who remain on the other companies payroll and everything.   

     The good thing is we still qualified for free bus rides all over Seattle.  The bad thing was that we could not actually buy stuff at the company store.



  • @CDarklock said:

    @Matt Garman said:

    What happens if you're wrong?

    I don't know. I just have this vague sense that it would be Very Very Bad.

     

    Hmm.  What do you mean by "being wrong"?  Surely you don't mean making honest mistakes?



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @CDarklock said:

    There is a culture of Microsoft FTEs (Full Time Employees, who have blue security badges), and a culture of contractors (who have orange security badges).

    I've found this division exists at a lot of places. When I worked *at* PPG, for example, there was a distinct pecking order for FTE and contractors. As a contractor, I was only allowed to scavanage for leftovers *after* the FTEs picked through and they would explicitly exclude us from certain functions like... cake in the cafeteria. It was pretty funny.

     

    My impression at the first place I worked was that there was no real "cultural" division between company employees and contracted/agency employees.  But, again, the company was so big that it may have been complete different in other areas.  But where I was, and with most of the groups with which I worked, being agency was about as significant as being left-handed: no one really cared.  Actually, a fair number of agency folks had critical roles or were subject matter experts.



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @Matt Garman said:

    What is the "culture" of your job like?

    Well, since you asked... small software consulting company with a culture that centers around "work hard and excel harder." We're all here because we love what we do, want to be the best at what we do, and identify ourselves by our profession (i.e. I am a software developer, not a guy who develops software). 40-hour work week? Sure, maybe if you're going away for the weekend and want to leave early Thursday and take Friday off. Leaving your "work" at the office? Maybe your computer, but you better be solving problems in your sleep and in the shower. Sick leave? No one counts it, but don't even think about getting the rest of us sick.

    How many hours, then, would you say you're actually at the office during the week?

    Do you think about problems so much during out-of-the-office times that you can't do other non-work-related stuff during the week?

    @Alex Papadimoulis said:


    Some people are into this, most people aren't. We're the type who "live to work", not who "work to live". One of the first things I tell candidates: "you will work harder than you've ever worked before, you will probably start off earning less than you do now, but if you strive to be the best, then this job will be the best you've ever had."

     

    I think about situations like this in terms of "passion" versus "engagement".   That is, if you come in and naturally have the ambition and dedication needed to succeed in your business, you have passion.

    But what if someone joined your team who wasn't passionate, but far from a bump on a log? ...someone who came in, wanting to do a good job, help out, make valuable contributions, seemed bright enough, etc, but who wasn't quite at the level of "live to work"?  I call this engaged: it's clearly above mediocre, certainly above average, but not at the top of the scale (that's passion).  Would this person succeed at your company?

    My take on this, I suppose, is that someone might appear to be just average, but can be "grown" into engagement with reasonable coaching/mentoring.  This is based on my limited experience.  At the previous job, I'd like to think I was "engaged": the job wasn't my passion, but I worked pretty hard, mostly enjoyed the work, and felt I really knew what was going on.  I don't think I really saw any people who were passionate, but I did see pleny of attitudes that resulted in basically average work.  Anyway, I don't know that I would have reached the level of engagement that I did if I wasn't given a lot of encouragement when I first hired on.  People were receptive to questions, and generally very helpful if I got stuck or something.

    I guess that's one of the main reasons I started this thread: I'm curious what kind of personality your group best caters to: (1) the "average" types, solidly in the "work to live" camp, who only want to do exactly what they're told, collect a paycheck and go home; the (2) passionate types, who live to work, who will almost certainly succeed regardless of the environment, or (3) my "engaged" types, who are also in the "work to live" camp, but ahead of the "average" folks, the middle ground between average and passionate?

    Anyway, thank you for your insightful response!

     



  • @jetcitywoman said:

    I think ours is interesting.  Very large defense contractor, but they indulged in the merger-mania of the late 1990's.  So  now the corporate business is divided up between satellite stuff, airplane/jet stuff, shipbuilding stuff, healthcare stuff, and public safety stuff.  I like to joke that the only thing left to acquire was Time Warner, but in reality it's a ridiculous situation.  They are trying very hard to make all of the divisions adhere to DOD policies and procedures, whether it works well or not.

     

    Hehe, the place I originally worked was a manufacturing company, so management practices best suited for a factory were often over-used.  E.g., software development was done strictly on the "waterfall" method; everything had to be 

    @jetcitywoman said:

    We bring in small amounts, contracts worth under half-million, but lots of them each year, so our group has lots of revenue on the books.  The Windows people always go after the large multi-million dollar contracts, one or two each year, and so far haven't figured out how to keep them profitable.  So even though corporate favors the Windows group, we black dog legacy people are the ones bringing in the money.  

     

    Does management recognize that?  Sounds like one of those situations where management is like, "no one knows what these guys do, but they're bringing in the money so we just let them do their thing."  I would guess that would be a fairly fun place to work, until someone comes along and decides  to micro-manage you into looking/acting like everyone else.



  • @Matt Garman said:

    How many hours, then, would you say you're actually at the office during the week? Do you think about problems so much during out-of-the-office times that you can't do other non-work-related stuff during the week?

    Generally from 8-to-8, and a "half day" on the weekends; sometimes less, usually more. As for "play" time, provided that the activity is suffiently engaging (say, landscaping or construction) or detaching (movies), then I have no problem enjoying it. But if I have to sit down and just "watch" nature... I basically go crazy.


    @Matt Garman said:

    But what if someone joined your team who wasn't passionate, but far from a bump on a log? ...someone who came in, wanting to do a good job, help out, make valuable contributions, seemed bright enough, etc, but who wasn't quite at the level of "live to work"?  I call this engaged: it's clearly above mediocre, certainly above average, but not at the top of the scale (that's passion).  Would this person succeed at your company?

    Maybe? Obviously, it's about quality of work and not just quantity, but a hard part to overcome in environments like this competition. When "everyone" is doing long hours, it's hard to be the only guy that does a 9-to-5. When I was only "engaged" at various jobs (I did a lot of freelancing in those days), it was really hard for me to cope with an environment that demanded "passion" from their employees, and I always felt others perceived me to be the "slacker" (which, by their standards, I'm sure I was). This was one of the main reasons I quit and went on my own.


    @Matt Garman said:

    At the previous job, I'd like to think I was "engaged": the job wasn't my passion, but I worked pretty hard, mostly enjoyed the work, and felt I really knew what was going on.

    I think it's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to be passionate about a job when you're only support staff: corporate IT, etc. At a bank, the passionate folks will be the bankers, not the programmers or HR reps. But when you work at a software company or software consultancy, the culture will have to demand a high level of engagement or passion to be anything but mediocre.



  • @Matt Garman said:

    Hmm.  What do you mean by "being wrong"? 

    In context, I was talking about carrying your own personal torch up the food chain. If you see a bug and nobody else does, you can escalate all the way to the top level.

    But when you're knocking on Steve Ballmer's door, and telling him nobody else at the company thinks this is the bug you know it is, you'd better not be wrong.



  • Resurrecting this thread...

    @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @Matt Garman said:

    How many hours, then, would you say you're actually at the office during the week? Do you think about problems so much during out-of-the-office times that you can't do other non-work-related stuff during the week?

    Generally from 8-to-8, and a "half day" on the weekends; sometimes less, usually more. As for "play" time, provided that the activity is suffiently engaging (say, landscaping or construction) or detaching (movies), then I have no problem enjoying it. But if I have to sit down and just "watch" nature... I basically go crazy.

    So is it fair to say that you're passionate about your work?  How do you keep from getting burnt out?  Likewise, do you lament not having the time to pursue other hobbies?  Or is the satisfaction derived from your work sufficient to make your life "complete"?

    @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @Matt Garman said:

    At the previous job, I'd like to think I was "engaged": the job wasn't my passion, but I worked pretty hard, mostly enjoyed the work, and felt I really knew what was going on.

    I think it's extremely difficult (if not impossible) to be passionate about a job when you're only support staff: corporate IT, etc. At a bank, the passionate folks will be the bankers, not the programmers or HR reps. But when you work at a software company or software consultancy, the culture will have to demand a high level of engagement or passion to be anything but mediocre.

     

    I find that insightful, and think I agree with you.  I've yet to experience being in business for myself, so I can't speak to that.  But I know that I've always had a somewhat diverse set of interests, and a pretty strong desire to give all of them some attention.  One of those interests has always been technology and coding, but I'm not sure if I love it enough to muster up the passion needed to be successful running my own business (which to me implies letting all other interests fall to the wayside).

     As of now, my ideal situation would be an environment that at fosters "engagement" and doesn't demand passion.  Which to me means something I can enjoy, get guidance and mentoring when needed, and not expect to make it my life, so I have time to enjoy other things in life as well.  Do these kind of cultures exist?  Or are they few and far between?

    And a related, but more introspective question: should one keep searching for a culture/environment that suits his passion, or should he just look to find something "good enough" to pay the bills while he does other fun stuff?  Live to work or work to live?  What attitude do people around here have?

     



  • @Matt Garman said:

    So is it fair to say that you're passionate about your work?  How do you keep from getting burnt out?  Likewise, do you lament not having the time to pursue other hobbies?  Or is the satisfaction derived from your work sufficient to make your life "complete"?

    Definitely passionate. But keep in mind... my office is 1/2 a mile from my house, so I'm fortunate to get have those extra hours each week that most spend on a commute. And despite all the work hours, there's still plenty of time (168 a week - 56 sleep/related - 66 work = 46 hours) for hobby (I do piano composition and game development among other things), exercise (45mins daily... it's a new thing), family, etc. The trick (which I'm still learning) is making the most out of those hours.

    @Matt Garman said:

    And a related, but more introspective question: should one keep searching for a culture/environment that suits his passion, or should he just look to find something "good enough" to pay the bills while he does other fun stuff?  Live to work or work to live?  What attitude do people around here have?

    How about Option C? Find the job that gives you the desired work/money/"fun stuff" balance and strive to adjust your own work-related passion/wants/needs. Most people do that without ever realizing it. I'm consciously trying to do that with diet & exercise (I hate it... but I *will* learn like it).



  • @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @Matt Garman said:

    So is it fair to say that you're passionate about your work?  How do you keep from getting burnt out?  Likewise, do you lament not having the time to pursue other hobbies?  Or is the satisfaction derived from your work sufficient to make your life "complete"?

    Definitely passionate. But keep in mind... my office is 1/2 a mile from my house, so I'm fortunate to get have those extra hours each week that most spend on a commute. And despite all the work hours, there's still plenty of time (168 a week - 56 sleep/related - 66 work = 46 hours) for hobby (I do piano composition and game development among other things), exercise (45mins daily... it's a new thing), family, etc. The trick (which I'm still learning) is making the most out of those hours.

    Ahh, no or virtually no commute.  That makes a huge difference.  I'm at the office about 11 hours/day, but have an hour commute on both sides.  That's 10 hours/week right there!

    @Alex Papadimoulis said:

    @Matt Garman said:

    And a related, but more introspective question: should one keep searching for a culture/environment that suits his passion, or should he just look to find something "good enough" to pay the bills while he does other fun stuff?  Live to work or work to live?  What attitude do people around here have?

    How about Option C? Find the job that gives you the desired work/money/"fun stuff" balance and strive to adjust your own work-related passion/wants/needs. Most people do that without ever realizing it. I'm consciously trying to do that with diet & exercise (I hate it... but I *will* learn like it).

     

    So are you saying: first find the job that meets the work-life-money balance, then adjust attitude as necessary to make the best out of the job?  As opposed to searching high and low for the "perfect" job that doesn't require much in the way of attitude modification?  I might be misunderstanding, but: in general, I agree, but what if you find a job that meets your pay and work-life-balance requirements, but turns out the culture/environment is truly a turd, i.e. no attitude adjustment will allow you to "fit in"?  Then you're back to square one.  That's kind of what prompted my original question: I wonder what kind of expectations are realistic when going into a new job, particularly with regards to the culture or "soft" aspects of the environment?

     Anyway, thanks again for the insightful commentary.  I've struggled to find a forum where people discuss this in-depth... it's something I spend an (admittedly disproportionate) amount of time thinking about.

     As for exercise, what are you doing?  If you're doing something "traditional" like jogging or lifting weights, but finding it boring, I suggest [url=http://www.crossfit.com]CrossFit[/url].  I went from being somewhat indifferent about exercise to decidedly more "engaged" when I started doing CrossFit.



  • @Matt Garman said:

    what if you find a job that meets your pay and work-life-balance requirements, but turns out the culture/environment is truly a turd, i.e. no attitude adjustment will allow you to "fit in"?  Then you're back to square one. 

    Remember that there's little (if any) harm in looking for another job and moving somewhere else. If you've got talent and work hard ("engaged"), then you're already in the 90th percentile. [url=http://thedailywtf.com/articles/up-or-out-solving-the-it-turnover-crisis.aspx]Move around[/url], see what fits. Maybe by your sixth job, you'll get what's realistic and what's not.

     

    @Matt Garman said:

    As for exercise, what are you doing?  If you're doing something "traditional" like jogging or lifting weights, but finding it boring, I suggest CrossFit.  I went from being somewhat indifferent about exercise to decidedly more "engaged" when I started doing CrossFit.

    CrossFit looks interesting... my biggest hurdle has not been boredom so much, but fixating on the negative reinforcement of exertion (tired, sweaty, etc) without realizing mid-term (more energy) and long-term (fit) positives. So, I'm going Pavlovian with the eliptical machine + 24... in theory, since few things are more awesome than Jack Bauer, I'll consider exercise a good thing and enjoy mid- and long- term rewards while ignoring short-term punishment. Interesting thing... when I miss a couple days, I feel a bit "off". Now, hopefully, that's not just me needing my fix of 24...



  • Sorry it's been so long since I last replied.  Busy...

     @Matt Garman said:

    @jetcitywoman said:

    We bring in small amounts, contracts worth under half-million, but lots of them each year, so our group has lots of revenue on the books.  The Windows people always go after the large multi-million dollar contracts, one or two each year, and so far haven't figured out how to keep them profitable.  So even though corporate favors the Windows group, we black dog legacy people are the ones bringing in the money.  

     

    Does management recognize that?  Sounds like one of those situations where management is like, "no one knows what these guys do, but they're bringing in the money so we just let them do their thing."  I would guess that would be a fairly fun place to work, until someone comes along and decides  to micro-manage you into looking/acting like everyone else.

    It started out that way, but more and more corporate is forcing us to adhere to DOD policies and procedures anyway.  It's life in a large corporation, everybody is a number, a cog in the wheel.  So if we want to send a customer a $3,000 quote for a 24-hour job, it takes 2 or 3 months to go through the approval chain (accountants and attorneys) before we can send it.  Assuming the customer still has the grant money by then, when he sends us a purchase order, it takes another 2 to 3 months for all of the accountants to approve it and enter it into the system before we can start work.  We're to the point now where they're making it extremely hard for us to keep our customers happy and bring in the revenue.

    And again, in a large corporate environment, the people who really run the place won't notice the decreasing revenue until it's too late.  Or if they do see the downward slide in the spreadsheets, they'll just assume we're not selling enough.  Beaurocracy is never to blame because the Process Rules All. 

    Also, regarding the question of passion for your work and doing long hours, don't confuse inefficient work with passion.  For example, one of my coworkers works long hours, works from home nights and weekends, takes a very long time to finish his projects.  I'm pretty sure he's just inefficient and doesn't realize it.  He welcomes interruptions by phone and email and talks alot.  If someone asks for help, he gives it.  That's normally a good thing, but he takes it to bad extremes.  He will help them first, no matter how long it takes, and set his assigned projects on the shelf until he's done helping the other people.  I've seen him do that - basically agreed to do some work for a different group of people because they were struggling with it.

    And then he complains that he can't get caught up.  Don't get caught in that trap.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @jetcitywoman said:

    For example, one of my coworkers works long hours, works from home nights and weekends, takes a very long time to finish his projects.  I'm pretty sure he's just inefficient and doesn't realize it.  He welcomes interruptions by phone and email and talks alot.

    Probably showing my ignorance, but so would I. <<call from office (or where ever)>> Hellooooo?!?! <someone to talk *coherently* about work to beyond other half and possibly 6 month old crotch-fruit...>

     @jetcitywoman said:

    He will help them first, no matter how long it takes, and set his assigned projects on the shelf until he's done helping the other people.

    I do that at work.I get crap for it.  I can only imagine the crap I'd get if I was remote.


  • @galgorah said:

    But here racial/ethnic culture plays a huge role.  everyone works the same hours but sleep varies.  Stereotypes abound and mix to create the company culture.  For example our DBA's are very reserved.  Don't like anyone nosing around in their stuff lest you incur the wrath of the mother land.  I often act as go between since I am apparently on their good side (my girlfriend is russian and they seem to trust me more as a result.  don't ask me why they base their opinion on that one). 

     

    It's because there's a common ground between you and them that brings you much closer to their culture and gives you a much better understanding about them than any other 'foreigner' (from their perspective) is going to have. I myself have observed this effect when dealing with Japanese people as while I'm no native speaker, I'm able to communicate at a reasonable level (matter of fact, I've had native speakers ask me where in Japan I've lived which is funny seeing how I've not even once been to Japan yet). Works great for picking up Japanese girls (which I unfortunately meet way too rarely), I'm almost guaranteed to get their #. :)

    So whenever you have something that in some way connects you to the other culture, be that language, significant other, whatever else, it makes a big difference.



  • I am at my fifth different job since finishign my degree in 2004. Here are my impressions of the cultures I have worked at:

    1. State Government agency - Very fun culture in my department, but it sometimes got out of hand. Practical jokes were a daily occurrence, which sounds great but affected productivity at times. Example: The Network Admin planted a startup script on my machine that caused the CD drive to open and close every 30 seconds. I could turn it off but when it was occurring on my day off and was driving my officemate batty, it turned into a problem.

    2. Telephony software company - Very liberal-minded culture. Lots of long hair, birkenstocks and herbal tea. Also lots of social borders between departments. Most people didn't talk to you unless they had to.

    3. Dot-com - Very conservative-minded culture. My development group usually went to lunch together. When my boss was in the mood, lunch might involve two or three pitchers of beer shared between 4 people. Made it sometimes hard to stay awake for afternoon meetings. It was also not unheard of for a bottle of tequila to emerge on Friday afternoons. Very social but also a bit hard on the liver.

    4. Real Estate company - Very friendly culture. Everybody knows everybody. Everyone outgoing and willing to work together and share information. But no real social aspect at the end of the day.

    5. HUGE Media Company - My current job. Not a lot of sharing of knowledge. Lots of possessive attitude about projects and code. "Why do you want to know about that? That's MY project!". Bureaucracy prevails on projects. Nothing gets started until someone says go and if no one says go, the project is late from day one. Forward-thinking and a proactive attitude are highly discouraged. The company and the cool projects you work on are what make this job worthwhile, not the people.


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