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United States Dept of Energy Golden Field Office:What's it like to work here?

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Review averages

  • 5 employees say

    Excellent (0)
    0%
    Good (4)
    80%
    Satisfactory (1)
    20%
    Subpar (0)
    0%
    3.14
  • 0 applicants say

    Excellent (0)
    0%
    Good (0)
    0%
    Satisfactory (0)
    0%
    Subpar (0)
    0%
    0.00

Reviews for United States Dept of Energy Golden Field Office

Reviews - What employees say

3.14 Employees say
0.00 Applicants say
  • 27.Jun 2017
  • Employee

Company Culture

If culture is behavior, then the culture here is "inconsistent and incommunicative." Senior management does not communicate effectively, either laterally or horizontally. There is very little accountability, as management does not hold people to compliance with some requirements and does not ensure poor performance is corrected. It's discouraging to high performing personnel, and several senior managers and execs are notorious micromanagers. Many managers do not seem to trust their personnel and are highly reluctant to delegate duties. For a "scientific shop" the concept of business management seems to be alien, and they make a lot of business decisions in the absence of data.

Support from management

Expectations of leadership are mysterious and undocumented, and you have to work to pull something concrete out of them. Goals are all over the place, are not integrated, aligned or prioritized. Managers are not consistent in documenting annual personal performance goals or in providing feedback on progress/problems. Many management decisions seem to be somewhat arbitrary (or are at least not transparent), and key business initiatives are made by multiple parties with no apparent criteria or prioritization of limited resources. Lots of conflicting and duplicative initiatives going on, and no one is communicating to the others about them. Virtually no professional development support, and conference attendance is miserly.

Teamwork

Teams can be really strong if the right people are on them, and if management trusts the team leaders; however, a lot of teams are set to work on highly similar initiatives and find out they're doing duplicative work through the grapevine. There's very little information shared across the institution about what big initiatives are going on.

Freedom to work independently

It varies by manager - some are good at assigning and trusting, but many others (esp. execs) are not - they micromanage. It varies group by group, manager by manager, and is entirely personality based rather than cultural.

Internal Communication

Even within my work group communication is not great - one of my two supervisors tends to task multiple people with the same thing but doesn't tell all of us, then we find out we're working on the same thing at cross purposes. Getting info from senior management is nearly impossible - they all keep it close to the vest because it seems to be a liability to share info. Or they just don't think it would be important for personnel to know. You have to work twice as hard to find out what's going on and what you need to know. Trying to find someone who has information you need requires working the grapevine, rather than having any central designation of responsibilities.

Gender Equality

Haven't personally experienced any gender discrimination but see previous comment about diversity of sr. mgmt and exec cadre.

Attitude towards older colleagues

A lot of millenials here, in the workforce, and a lot of new sr managers in mid-career, so the age spread is pretty centered around 30-mid-40's. By nature of the professional progression, a lot of older Fellows who are still very active in research. There seems to be a high level of awareness of age diversity.

Career Development

Another mystery is how to advance. There are no documented career paths or progressions to guide you on how to move up, no help from HR (who seems to not consider professional development to be their responsibility). Advancements seem to be strongly personality based. When an exec position comes open, they reassign responsibilities laterally until the position is filled, causing other execs to take on even more, rather than designate an "acting" from within the ranks (probably because a lot of senior managers don't delegate effectively, so there really is no go-to second in command who is prepared to assume temporary management responsibilities). You don't get much support for attending professional conferences, so networking is limited.

Overall compensation for your work

I'm paid well for what I do, and the benefits are overall pretty good. Good health coverage (medical, dental, vision, FMLA).

Office / Work Environment

The campus and office buildings are great - very open, beautiful landscape, lots of natural lighting, and very casual. It's easy to move around and work pretty much where you want to. There are nice amenities - a coffee shop, a cafeteria (although the food selection has steadily deteriorated), a workout room, quiet rooms for breastfeeding moms to pump, walking paths, bike maintenance stations. Technology is pretty good but could be better (cyber security drives a lot of limitations).

Environmental Friendliness

Possibly the strong point for working here.

Work-Life Balance

Depends on where you work, but generally this is pretty good. They allow flex schedules and work-from-home opportunities. However, some personnel report working a lot of weekends and evenings to finish excessive workloads. Others are significantly under utilized. Resource management, knowing who's working on what and who's available, is a major challenge here. The good workers tend to get overloaded.

Company Image

It's deteriorating. The quality of our products are increasingly not meeting customer's expectations and there doesn't seem to be a concerted management will to fix the problem comprehensively - it's a lot of bandaids. Projects are not well planned (no requirement to plan them beyond establishing a budget in the financial system), so work often falls behind schedule and goes over budget. Doesn't seem to be a culture of strong project management here, and that's affecting the reputation.

Job Security

It all depends on Congressional funding.

Challenging Work

Great mission, very challenging and exciting, but as it's mostly funded by a Congressional body that is slightly hostile to the mission, it's a little scary. Funding is always an issue, and even moreso now.

Inclusive / Diverse

It's pretty inclusive at the worker level but the new leadership is not - only three females at the exec level (out of 14) and no visible paths for personnel to advance into management. But the lab recruits broadly and the workforce reflects that. The biggest source of division is between "mission" (i.e., researchers) and "mission support" (i.e., business support functions) - very much an "us" vs. "them" mentality here. Business support is seen as "burdensome" instead of helpful.

Suggestions for improvement

  • We need to have expectations and processes communicated clearly. Sort out the myriad goals/objectives and help us understand what the priorities are, because they're all over the place. Help us sort out resources, too, so the best people aren't worked to death.

What I like about the company

I'm paid really well for what I do, and my immediate coworkers are great. It's a pretty casual and easygoing workplace for me.

What I dislike about the company

Management doesn't communicate well, it's a very laissez faire culture, with little structure or consistency; there's a strong reluctance to document and share things like roles and responsibilities, key work processes, career paths. It's often frustrating to get anything done because the instructions for doing things are scattered and variable. Lots of micromanagement going on, and a sense that management doesn't really trust personnel to do the job.

Company Culture
2.00
Support from management
2.00
Teamwork
4.00
Freedom to work independently
3.00
Internal Communication
2.00
Gender Equality
3.00
Attitude towards older colleagues
3.00
Career Development
2.00
Overall compensation for your work
4.00
Office / Work Environment
4.00
Environmental Friendliness
5.00
Work-Life Balance
4.00
Company Image
3.00
Job Security
3.00
Handicapped Accessibility
4.00
Workplace Safety
4.00
Challenging Work
5.00
Inclusive / Diverse
3.00

The following benefits were offered to me

is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered
  • Company
    United States Dept of Energy Golden Field Office
  • City
    Golden
  • Are you a Current or Former Employee?
    Current employee
  • Position
    Employee
  • Department
    Others

The following perks were offered to me

is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered
  • 07.Mar 2017
  • Employee

Company Culture

NREL's culture is somewhat of a contradiction. They emphasize science (as they should) and profess to have good communication but organizations are highly siloed, communication from management is erratic, and there is little business management rigor.

Support from management

Leadership sets the expectation to focus on the science/research, as it should, but doesn't seem to understand that reducing bureaucracy requires some degree of bureaucratic structure and rigor in the first place. Business processes intended to support the conduct of the research are disorganized, tribal in some cases, and largely undocumented. Employees are not generally involved in decision-making that impacts them (such as assignment/reassignment of roles and responsibilities) until after the fact, and expectations are fluid and often undocumented.

Teamwork

Teams within functional groups tend to be very good, but cross-functional work is stilted and inconsistent. It depends entirely on the personalities involved, and some members of executive management often intervene in planned team actions, disrupting work and creating confusion. It can be very frustrating, or it can be really satisfying, depending on who is on your team.

Freedom to work independently

This particular reviewer has very mixed experiences with being trusted to work independently. Despite more than 20 years in the field and repeatedly demonstrated competence (award winning and often rewarded performance), my senior executive continually tasks me then steps in to do the work themselves. This creates tremendous duplication of effort, confusion among the management I am working with, and constant second guessing.

Internal Communication

Communication within my immediate work group is fairly good, but communication coming down the line from executives is poor. Leadership is very hush hush, and holds information close until rumors leak out and they have to hustle to get facts out. It's challenging to know what's going on. Institutional planning is not well integrated, strategy is not well communicated (seems to be secret), and organizations are very siloed.

Office / Work Environment

It's a great campus, with modern buildings, several conveniences (free fitness center, cafeteria, coffee shop, open campus, nice landscaping), and the first office building I've worked in where the windows open! Lots of natural lighting, and natural ventilation/temp, but that can sometimes backfire as heating/cooling is not as consistent as a more energy-intense building tends to be.

Environmental Friendliness

It's part of the mission. Kudos on sustainable campus and workplace, high focus on energy efficiency and waste minimization. I think we could do more in that regard, however, if management put more attention on it as a matter of daily business.

Work-Life Balance

Personally, it's good, but I've heard of others who report having to work a lot of nights and weekends on their own dime because the ability to plan and manage resources is so sloppy. Some specialists are 120% loaded, others are barely 50% occupied. They don't do strong project planning here so it's hard to apportion resources efficiently to ensure a good work-life balance for all.

Job Security

Frankly, the current administration is the biggest threat to NREL, as they are NOT supporters of clean energy, and NREL is funded through Congress. Our future under this administration is dire.

Challenging Work

Are you kidding? We are literally working to save the world, one watt at a time. Fantastic mission, tremendous focus on energy efficiency, and huge threat to that mission from current national leadership. All the makings of a superhero movie!

Inclusive / Diverse

It's getting better but still few women in executive positions (5 /15). No defined management develop/career development paths, so it makes it hard to figure out what you need to do to advance. The major "division" factor in the traditional "us vs. them" scenario is researchers vs. business support personnel. Racial and ethnic diversity seems to be good, with a lot of researchers from many countries and ethnicities (reflecting general US slump in science pipelines).

Suggestions for improvement

  • The lab is too large to continue to operate the business side of the house with so little structure. Researchers we've worked with are struggling to understand how to plan and manage research projects because there is such resistance to documenting business processes perceived to be "too bureaucratic."

What I like about the company

I'm paid extremely well for what I do. I have a lot of flexibility about work assignments in my particular role. I'm encouraged to find opportunities to continue my professional education and development. We have a lot of flexibility to work in a variety of modes (in office, remote location, work from home, alternate work schedules). The mission is highly motivating and I'm proud to be associated with it.

What I dislike about the company

I feel continually frustrated with senior management's apparent lack of interest in applying the same rigor to planning and analysis of business performance as they apply to the experimental methodologies of their research projects. For scientists who live and breathe data, they resist using data to make many business decisions.

Company Culture
3.00
Support from management
2.00
Teamwork
3.00
Freedom to work independently
3.00
Internal Communication
2.00
Gender Equality
3.00
Attitude towards older colleagues
3.00
Career Development
2.00
Overall compensation for your work
4.00
Office / Work Environment
4.00
Environmental Friendliness
4.00
Work-Life Balance
4.00
Company Image
4.00
Job Security
1.00
Handicapped Accessibility
4.00
Workplace Safety
5.00
Challenging Work
5.00
Inclusive / Diverse
3.00

The following benefits were offered to me

is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered
  • Company
    United States Dept of Energy Golden Field Office
  • City
    Golden
  • Are you a Current or Former Employee?
    Current employee
  • Position
    Employee
  • Department
    Administration

The following perks were offered to me

is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered
  • 19.Jan 2017
  • Employee

Company Culture

Since the new laboratory director came on board a little over one year ago, the "Leadership Team" has shut the doors on their open door policy. Senior staff level subject matter experts are no longer invited to participate in discussions about strategic planning, risks, and management systems, but have to wait for feedback from their line executive on any actions. The culture has changed from one of fairly open vertical communication to one of almost none or unidirectional (informing rather than communicating). Staff morale is low in my area, executive micromanagement is up, and expectations are changing without much discussion. The shriveling of communication is impeding staff ability to be proactive, as we mostly just wait to be told what to do now.

Support from management

Personally, our group has undergone a reorganization and merger with a larger group, and were without a manager for nearly 6 months during which time the line executive spent less than 2 hours - in 6 months time - talking to us individually about work expectations. Not entirely the exec's fault, though, as they were concurrently in three "acting" positions, juggling three executive jobs at once. That's how they manage here - in the case of a management void, they reassign laterally and overload another manager rather than bringing up high performing senior staff and giving them the opportunity to grow their capability in an "acting manager" role. It seems to reflect a profound lack of trust that experienced senior staff can handle the responsibilities.

Teamwork

Most of my peer colleagues are excellent team members, and genuinely strive to work constructively together. However, we do so without much management support (heck, we do it without management knowledge). It's sort of a case of "ask forgiveness rather than permission" and just work with whomever you need to. The caliber of senior staff and most junior/mid-level staff is excellent. We have to be, to get anything done in the absence of good management.

Freedom to work independently

My particular executive is extremely "hands on" and is known for just taking over the task without discussion. I have personally experienced this several times, working on a deliverable that requires high coordination with executive and senior management personnel. I have provided project schedules identifying my turnover points, review dates, finalization dates, etc. and this executive just ignores that and takes over the deliverable with no notice, issuing their own intermediate versions and countermanding the instructions I provided. It ruins any attempt at version control and quality assurance. I am not the only one who experiences this, either. Other executives seem to have difficulty delegating, as well.

Internal Communication

Our group was reorganized last year, merged with a larger group, and it took more than six months to recruit a new manager, during which time our line executive provided no direction, absolute minimal communication, and no information about progress in filling the position. The executive team seems to have shut the doors, and very little information is forthcoming regarding new organizational roles and responsibilities. Senior managers are leaving at what seems to be a high rate and no announcements are made, which leads to a lot of speculation, rumors and gossip.

Gender Equality

See my comments on inclusion/diversity

Attitude towards older colleagues

Most of the older colleagues are highly respected, highly accomplished scientists, so there's a bit of a reverential culture. However, the young professionals are also supported and celebrated when they make career achievements. On the ops side, however, there's a sense of older personnel being too resistant to change, despite evidence to the contrary.

Career Development

It depends entirely on whether you're a researcher or a business systems/ops person. The science side has lots of support for career advancement; not so much on the ops side.

Overall compensation for your work

I have done benchmarking and find I am very well compensated for my position. Benefits are pretty good; health insurance is really good (in my experience).

Office / Work Environment

The physical working environment is really nice, with a beautiful campus, good amenities (a cafe, a full cafeteria, a free workout room with a lot of machines and yoga + aerobics classes, open to all), "quiet" rooms for nursing mothers to pump, lots of natural lighting and windows that open to fresh air. The design philosophy was basically to make it feel like an attractive, supportive contemporary university campus.

Environmental Friendliness

I mean, we're the renewable energy laboratory. Seriously focused on energy efficiency. The whole campus is one giant energy efficiency experiment. Literally. The buildings are automatically monitored for comfort, it takes ten minutes to dispose of trash because you have to sort through what's compostable, what's recyclable, and what's refuse. Xeriscaping, highly water efficient, and devoted to ecological sustainability.

Work-Life Balance

Personally, this is very easy to work with. They have a flexible policy on working remotely and providing alternate days off, the personal leave is fair, and most managers I work with are pretty casual about taking time off, as long as you get your work done on time. Too many managers, however, are constantly "connected" and seem to make it a habit of working over the weekends.

Company Image

It's a well-respected, neutral third party in the field of renewable energy.

Job Security

It's funded largely through congressional appropriation, so however secure that is...

Handicapped Accessibility

I"m not handicapped, but as a federally-governed workplace, it has to meet all the ADA requirements.

Workplace Safety

The safety culture is increasing, and safety performance is very high relative to the industry standards.

Challenging Work

In general, the mission is incredible and the scientists and engineers are so focused and devoted to it, it's an honor to support their work. My area, however, reveals a management culture on the lower end of maturity, with lots of room for improvement in the use of analytics for decision-making and critical self-assessment for performance improvement. My work has become less and less challenging as my line executives reduce the expectation for analytic support (they make decisions based on a lot of "what keeps us up at night" rather than objective data).

Inclusive / Diverse

I guess it's getting better; of the 15-member executive team, 1/3 are female and two are African-American men. This is an improvement over the last five years, however. There still seems to be a strong bias to elevating highly technically-competent men into leadership positions (but maybe that's because the highly technically-competent women enjoy being effective in their area of competency and don't want to get into executive management where they lose impact? who knows). There is definitely a divide between the "research" side of the house and the "operations support" side, and the ops personnel are held in much disdain by the research personnel, as being "burdensome" and inefficient despite actual data showing significant efficiency improvements in operational processes over the last few years.

Suggestions for improvement

  • There has to be better communication - there's a sense of mutual distrust and lack of confidence in high performers; learn to delegate, invest in bringing your senior staff up to be able to step in for you, and support their proficiency in "managing" personnel.

What I like about the company

Great pay for my position, nice physical working environment, relatively low stress work.

What I dislike about the company

Poor communication from management, frustration from lack of business maturity and scattered planning elements, perception of a lot of bureacracy, not much support for some business process improvement initiatives, perception of preferential treatment of some personnel.

Company Culture
3.00
Support from management
2.00
Teamwork
4.00
Freedom to work independently
3.00
Internal Communication
2.00
Gender Equality
3.00
Attitude towards older colleagues
4.00
Career Development
3.00
Overall compensation for your work
4.00
Office / Work Environment
4.00
Environmental Friendliness
5.00
Work-Life Balance
4.00
Company Image
4.00
Job Security
3.00
Handicapped Accessibility
4.00
Workplace Safety
4.00
Challenging Work
3.00
Inclusive / Diverse
3.00

The following benefits were offered to me

is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered is offered
  • Company
    United States Dept of Energy Golden Field Office
  • City
    Golden
  • Are you a Current or Former Employee?
    Current employee
  • Position
    Employee
  • Department
    Others

The following perks were offered to me

is offered is offered is offered is offered

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Review averages

  • 5 employees say

    Excellent (0)
    0%
    Good (4)
    80%
    Satisfactory (1)
    20%
    Subpar (0)
    0%
    3.14
  • 0 applicants say

    Excellent (0)
    0%
    Good (0)
    0%
    Satisfactory (0)
    0%
    Subpar (0)
    0%
    0.00

kununu score comparisons

United States Dept of Energy Golden Field Office
3.14
5 reviews

Industry average (Public Sector/Military/Law Enforcement)
3.51
22,031 reviews

kununu average
3.29
2,614,000 reviews