- United States Dept of Energy Golden Field Office27.Jun 2017
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Possibly the strong point for working here.
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.
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.
It all depends on Congressional funding.
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.
The following benefits were offered to me
- CompanyUnited States Dept of Energy Golden Field Office
- Are you a Current or Former Employee?Current employee