Friday, December 27, 2019

On The Passing Of A Corporate Culture

One of the by-products of the events last week wherein I have terminate a coworker and friend which has come up in conversation is the rapid and significant changes in our company..

During the first three years of my employment at my current company, we felt like more of a family culture.  We were a smaller company (< 100 up to  May of this year) and we all knew each other, at least on sight.  But things changed, as they always do at a growing company.  We outgrew our current space and so half of the company moved down the road.  We kept expanding and suddenly you see people you do not know, introduce yourself, and find out they have been working there for two months.

The changes are more subtle as well.  The hiring strategy has slowly morphed from just finding people with the right skill sets to findings people with not only the right skill sets but with larger corporate backgrounds.  More and more systems are implemented - suddenly it is not enough to make a request; there are paperwork and approvals in place and soon the ability to get anything done is not hindered by the task but rather by the amount of time for everything around the task.

But the most significant change, of course, is the company culture.

Our changes there have not been so subtle:  our previous Director of All Things Personnel left and we are in the process of transitioning to another one.  But even in the interim, the cold breath of corporatism is breathing down our neck.

A truly corporate All Things Personnel, for those that have never worked in one, is primarily concerned with protecting the company.  They do many useful and needed things to be sure - recruiting, managing benefits, reminding upper management they need to engage the employees, working through issues - all very necessary things.  But their most important job is to protect the company from liability stemming from employees.  That is a very difficult dynamic from smaller companies, which are more concerned with getting and keeping people (because resources and personnel are usually so scarce).

The result of all this is pretty much what you would imagine.  Conversations become much more controlled.  The content of such conversations is also much more controlled.  Interactions become potential points of risk, not collaboration.  Over time, the "look out for your own" becomes the new way of relating because the last thing in the world anyone wants to do is have a personnel conversation.  Employees become viewed not only in terms of what they do but in what level of risk they may engender to the workings of a department.  Individual employees learn to deal with things themselves instead of taking it in, because often as not the target comes on the individual, not on the problem.

The coworker I was discussing all of this with stated that this year was probably the last hurrah of the old culture and I agreed.  "I thought we had another year left"  was the comment.  My response was that since we never really had a strong culture, it made the replacement of that culture all the more easy.

I wonder, almost at the edge of retrospect, if all early employees go through this - the change of culture culture - and the wistful remembrance of what was, and oncoming mechanical efficiency of what will be.


  1. Everything used to be better before the SJW came along.
    And the snowflake generation.
    But I suppose costs do have a place in all this too.
    If I wasn't retired I think I might have to try living off the grid, I don't know.
    Here's to a blessed New Year.

  2. Yep.

    The SJWs are on the way, it’s only a matter of time. I hear they patrol the social media now, looking for crime-think on Twitter and Facebook. You’ll need more vibrants and homosexuals amongst the new hires, and they will bring new “challenges” that everyone should be “super-excited” about meeting. Wait until you have to fire employees for stuff like that. Or you can’t fire an obvious dud because it’s your only token affirmative action vibrant in that race/gender/creed/religion. Or you can’t hire a sure fire winner because he’s white and male.

    Expect your company to start boiling off the talent soon.😞

  3. Linda, I am not sure to what extent the changing demographic has a lot to do with it, honestly. Some, sure - but in a lot of instances, companies are just a lot more risk adverse than they used to be and anything that potentially represents a risk is to be avoided.

    Trust me, off the grid does not look so bad to me right now. In my mind, I have been trying to figure out ways to do this. I think - with a little planning, for example, at the Ranch - I think one could stay up there for weeks at a time with proper planning.

  4. Glen, I have heard the same - and heard directly from our CEO that any sort of on-line posting that was considered "egregious" would be grounds for termination, even if it had nothing to do with work. The one potential "fortunate" thing right now is that we are so short on people we cannot afford to not consider anyone.

    But yes, the change of culture, or perhaps a lack of it, is a big deal. I suspect after February - if and when bonuses are issued) - there will be a mass exodus.


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