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Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region
9

Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

(OP)
Just curious, what is the overall job culture in your geographic region?

Indiana, where I have worked my entire career, has become a veritable slave ship with backstabbers at every turn. Not intending this to be a whine session, but just stating facts.

I am wondering if the entire US has become this brow beating culture, or mainly the Midwest.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

I think it varies by company rather than region. Different companies have different internal cultures developed, nurtured or otherwise tolerated by the leadership.
I know there are companies in my city which are "slave ships" while others (mine!) are much different.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

Unless you are talking about really tiny companies, the management culture, which I think is what you are really referring to, does not extend beyond any manager's fiefdom. Naturally, there is a tendency for victims and perpetrators to find each other. Abusers have an innate ability to seek out and find abusees, and abusers potentially get something out of collegial fraternization.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

tz101,

How may places have you worked for? I have seen very different cultures at the places I have worked here in the greater Toronto area (Ontario, Canada).

--
JHG

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

Have worked at a few different places around the world. Many different factors influence work culture, not usually specific to the region, but specific to the state of the local economy.

Lack of available engineering workforce in a market usually means poor engineering work, lots of incompetent staff, and employees getting treated really well, all supported by high prices.

Lack of available work in a market usually leads to unemployment for incompetent engineers (sadly unemployment for juniors and young folks too), poor treatment of staff, but great engineering work (at low prices to boot).

Companies with tough management struggle to find or retain staff during the good times, but thrive in tough times. Companies with easy going management attract staff in good times and thrive inefficiently, but are out-gunned when times get tight.

Call me twisted but my technical development was greatest at the places that have tough (abusive?) management. Companies that strive for engineering excellence end up pushing employees out of their comfort zones, leading to long hours, firing of incompetent staff, and stress/competition among staff, which over the course of a couple years leads to great development, but can come at the expense of other things in your life, potentially.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

I've had the good, bad, and the ugly, all in the same company; it just needs to be big enough for small fiefdoms to survive on their own.

And this is at more than one company, albeit, they were all in California.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

(OP)
drawoh, I've worked at more than a few, and the past 18 years have been nothing but brutal.

NorthCivil, I have worked at two places where an engineer went home one night and shot himself in the head, so tend to veer toward more easy going cultures if at all possible.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

I live in Wisconsin and work in California. That's definitely a difference, but not the one your complaining about.

Take the term "Minnesota nice". I hate the word "nice" as it's usually a thin veneer of friendliness without any real kindness.

California generally seems mellow but under the surface is in some ways harsher and more competitive. (The level if talent is generally higher, as well--whole other discussion.)

There are great places to work in the Midwest. There are crappy places to work everywhere.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

I've worked for several large and medium-sized companies with thousands down to hundreds of engineers, always with multiple locations within the US and abroad. Within the profession, I dont find much culturally different across the US, there's good and bad everywhere including Indiana however IN did have the most widespread and openly unethical office of any I have worked in, at a Fortune 50 nonetheless. IN was also rather unique in that many colleagues were former farm-kids doing everything they could to pretend they'd grown up in an upper-class suburb, pretentious doesnt describe it. Overall however, I find American engineers about the same with minor variations in their speech and personal habits.

If you'd like to see contrast to our engineering offices, go work in Europe or Asia. One former employer was the American division of a German mega-corp. Not to belittle, but we joked regularly that the Germans had an engineer for every size and type of fastener bc they would need 30 engineers in six locations to review a project completed by two Americans. Asia IME is similarly different, most notably in their embrace of nationalism which Americans are often criticized for.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

I find the culture to be a product of the company and not the region per se. I do notice that a company culture can change when a new top dog comes in and brings their cronies with them - almost always to the detriment of the company - so a 'nice' company can go down the sewer quickly

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

I was once had lunch with a sales rep. So he gets to the restaurant, and there are no parking spots available, except for a handicap spot, and he whips out at a handicap parking placard from the glove compartment and parks in the spot.

Gack, no business to that guy, ever.

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

Quote:

truckandbus: I find the culture to be a product of the company and not the region per se. I do notice that a company culture can change when a new top dog comes in and brings their cronies with them - almost always to the detriment of the company - so a 'nice' company can go down the sewer quickly...

I believe this situation is called an inverse merger. An executive at a failing company is hired elsewhere, and begins to hire in all of his cronies and associates from his previous company, and importing a failed culture.

I experienced this also. Technical lead in developing new products from a licensed new just-out-of-the-lab sensor technology, This new product R&D effort was suddenly managed up by a person whose prior position was sourcing rubber parts out of China. I got tired of answering questions like "What is the difference between a frequency and a volt?" and left within a year. Within 4 years half of that entire division was disposed of by the corporation.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

(OP)

Quote (CWB1)

Indiana however IN did have the most widespread and openly unethical office of any I have worked in, at a Fortune 50 nonetheless. IN was also rather unique in that many colleagues were former farm-kids doing everything they could to pretend they'd grown up in an upper-class suburb, pretentious doesnt describe it.

CWB1, you have nailed Indiana squarely on the head. Unethical as all get out, and festering with snooty farm kids.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

(OP)

Quote (comcokid)

I experienced this also. Technical lead in developing new products from a licensed new just-out-of-the-lab sensor technology, This new product R&D effort was suddenly managed up by a person whose prior position was sourcing rubber parts out of China. I got tired of answering questions like "What is the difference between a frequency and a volt?" and left within a year. Within 4 years half of that entire division was disposed of by the corporation.

Comcokid, last place I worked reeked so badly with nepotism, the Quality Control director's only qualification was that he was the high school hockey buddy of the president. No prior QC experience at all, and he was given that position. I felt sorry for the Quality Control techs who actually knew their stuff and had to argue with him daily.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

I've worked with three different companies. Two were in the 400-500 range and one is 7000+. Far and away the one that treated it's employees the best is the largest one.

One of the smaller firms was somewhat like the OP described. Had to watch out for backstabbers and a culture that treated the employees like 2nd class citizens. That culture was cultivate by senior management. Profit was put above EVERYTHING. So much so that they didn't pay for office coffee. I'm not even a coffee drinker and I found that unbelievable.

I agree with others that it's mostly a product of leadership that determines the culture within a company.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

2
I can't comment meaningfully on the nature of the work environment from country to country. I have clients all over the world and colleagues in Europe but have never worked anywhere but my own province and country.

Here were I live, corporate culture can vary GREATLY from company to company even within a single city. There are normative differences between small companies and large, and as a result of the nature of the work being done too. Culture at manufacturers and producers for the engineering staff, differs greatly from that at consultancies/EPC firms etc.

As a result of self-knowledge and experience, I was able to eliminate the type of firm I didn't want to work for (or never wanted to work for again) from further consideration. Obviously that's a hard thing to do when times are really tough and you're between jobs- I just had a good network and good luck, including the luck to have some bad experiences EARLY and to learn from them.

As to the notion that "tough management" makes companies survive in hard times, my suggestion is that "your mileage may vary". Our company went through a disastrous year in 2004- contracts cancelled suddenly and nothing on the horizon for months- a year of very little paying work. We kept everybody- the entire engineering and drafting staff, along with all permanent employees in our manufacturing operation, admin etc. We had a banner year in 2005- more work than we could shake a stick at- and we made out like bandits. Being "softies" rather than "hard nosed managers" was the best business decision the company ever made, but it was made possible by many other good decisions: staffing up slowly and always in response to demand rather than in advance of it, remaining private rather than going public, owning ourselves (i.e. being employee owned rather than accountable to shareholders who don't understand the business), eliminating debt and creating a "war chest" in good times to cover bad times which we know are endemic to our business- slow periods happen and there's little to prevent it.

Just recently, the war chest allowed us the latitude to keep everybody in our manufacturing operation home for a few weeks until we could figure out how to operate with a minimum of risk of transmission of COVID 19 as well. What might surprise you is that some customers of ours- major firms that you'd recognize the names of, who make a big show of "safety culture"- were the ones pressuring us to get back to work again prematurely before we had designed precautions in place. We put the safety of our own workers first not because we've been trained to think that way, but because the owners and the workers are the same people...this fact makes many things easier.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

Unfortunately, being a good engineer, or whatever, often does not make for a good general manager or CEO. One guy was so in love with engineering and math that he would spend time cranking PDEs for fun and querying presenters during design reviews on off-topic engineering tangents. His subordinates were, unfortunately, not up to his level, and would hide things from him, for fear of being made fools of. He apparently couldn't focus on "minding the store," and his division was hostilely taken over by another.

Another, my favorite engineering manager, became GM, but I think he was too honest and forthright, and didn't last more than a year. His replacement was BD guy, who thought he knew engineering, and got an award from the utility for saving electricity by putting timers on the copiers. Of course, all our contracts sucked up the $3 of contract time/labor waiting for the copiers to warm up, but hey, our GM got an award!

TTFN (ta ta for now)
I can do absolutely anything. I'm an expert! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKorP55Aqvg
FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies forum1529: Translation Assistance for Engineers Entire Forum list http://www.eng-tips.com/forumlist.cfm

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

IRStuff: being a good engineer "or whatever" is neither necessary to be a good GM or CEO, nor does it make it impossible to be a good GM or CEO. They are related skillsets, but only somewhat overlapping.

Your first example isn't of someone who was "good at engineering"- not really. Sounds to me like someone who had an attention/focus problem that sometimes correlates with a high level of skills in certain, generally narrow, technical aspects of the job of being an engineer. Some people make careers of such narrow niches and live their happily their whole lives- but does that make them "good engineers"? It may make them expert in a narrow aspect of the job which might be OK.

It is also quite common for people who are promoted from a technical position into management, to continue to do their old job, or to micro-manage those under them who are doing their old job, because doing that makes them feel competent. Learning how to do their NEW job is hard, and makes them question their self-worth because we all suck at any new thing for a while before we become practiced and good at it. This is a common management problem. Ultimately not everyone is good management material for this reason, and others. Some are self-aware enough to know that, but others have an ambition that overwhelms their self-knowledge and they see management as the only way "forward" i.e. the only way to more money and/or more responsibility/impact.




RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

(OP)

Quote (moltenmetal)

It is also quite common for people who are promoted from a technical position into management, to continue to do their old job, or to micro-manage those under them who are doing their old job, because doing that makes them feel competent.

The peter principle at work.

RE: Current Job Culture in Your Geographic Region

In my experience, the region that you are in will have an impact on the culture, but won't define it. That is really going to be a combination of the industry you are in, the size of the company, and the sum total of the top managers that have come and gone. However, using Indiana as an example, you will certainly expect to find a different culture in Indianapolis than you would in Bluffton (1 hour south of Ft. Wayne).

By far though, the most impact on your experience is going to be made by your direct supervisor. While a good supervisor can create a bubble in a toxic work environment, they don't last nearly as long as toxic supervisors in a positive work environment.

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