Sad, no? I was a recently hired senior engineer at a company, and after 6 months, I saw a 30% turn over in the engineering organization.
The company was run like a sweat shop, and it came from the very top. It was a learning experience to see how company culture is set from the top, and that ethnic culture can influence a company's culture by proxy.
In my 20+ years in the disk drive industry I found that very good managers are the exception and not the rule. The next step down were managers that were not as adept working with people but even so, were willing to go to bat for their people. Near the bottom of the list were the managers that did not seem to want to deal with anything that required them to stand up for a principle. I found that my main challenge was learning to understand each manager's style and adapting the way I interacted with them to get the most support from them. I once I went from a manager that was very hands off to a manager that was very hands on. I thought I would not survive this new manager. After I learned that he was very willing to fight upper management for his people I felt that I was very fortunate indeed to have him as a manager.
Himanshu, that's one of the coolest things about working at a small company or startup. It's not that the higher-ups don't still have personalities or egos, but they simply cannot afford to let bureaucracy get in the way of results, or the company will die. Evolution takes much longer in a large company to have its cleansing effect...:-)
"To my astonishment, he refused to confirm or deny that the mode was necessary, and instead lectured me sternly on never again displaying the temerity to march into the office of somebody several levels above me in the management hierarchy, and would I please drag my sorry self out of his office."
Sounds like he didn't know, didn't want to expend the energy to find out and reacted defensively.
If he was several levels of management above you, then he probably had no idea what the answer to your question was. Upper level people often hate situations like this and are often willing to punish people who do that to them. Not very smart of the guy who did this.
The story goes both ways. And then everything boils down to the boss and the general environment and the culture of the company. Bob also told in the article that the supervisor was an a** but the boss was a nice and supportive person. I guess we become what we see and fell around us. I work for a small company and the atmosphere in this company promote independent thinking/working and more focus on problem solving than the hierarchy in the organization. My boss sits next to me and VP just besides me. I can bother them whenever i have a problem which i can not solve. I do not any "Big company" experience but my experience until now (both in academia and industry) has been very good. I did not encounter any hard egoist boss or supervisor and i hope i do not meet one.
That kind of ego and attitude from senior engineers toward the juniors is inexcusable and is a great recipe for alienating a young engineer and not enabling him or her to be as productive as possible.
As a fresh-out engineer, I went through a 6-month training program at Motorola's government group and it was a tremendous experience. Through a series of short projects in which we worked in teams to design, build and test a circuit to meet some tough specs, we all learned a great deal, and were mentored by some of the company's top experts in each subject area -- everything from microwave amplifiers to embedded software development to switching power supplies and more. It also helped each of us decide which area of design we really wanted to do, and by the end of that 6 months, everyone was ready to join the design team of an ongoing development and immediately be productive.
Later in my career at Motorola Semiconductor, I had the privilege of being a mentor as part of their engineering rotation program. Each fresh-out did four 3 month job rotations in different departments -- maybe design, product & test, the fab, and marketing, just as an example. This not only gave the junior engineers a chance to find out what they like and excel at, but also gave the departments a chance to "try it before you buy it", before offering a permanent position in their department.
Both were effective methods of training young engineers, and it is disappointing that I don't hear of companies doing anything like either of these programs anymore.
Thanks for sharing the experience. I guess your experience is not uncommon. One way or the other, similar situations would happen to a lot of junior engineers. I feel pretty sad that engineering firm doesn't have a better way to train and to motivate a junior engineer. Most engineers train themselves up to go for the job and the future prospect. The self-learning approach will educate the engineers to be a better student as well as a better teacher. Yet, he/ she might make the same mistakes that have been making by someone else in the company. Knowledge and experience need to pass down so that we can grow better. As I climb up the hierarchy and become a technical manager, I am trying to help junior engineers and keep them away from the mistakes that I have made. I found it is the best motivation to do better and the best retaining policy.
What's your experience on training a junior?
Well! You said it! Such experiences are not uncommon among the junior engineers whose enthusiasm and fresh approach to the problem, many times hurts the ego of their seniors and as a result they override/ignore such problems and at the end up in paying a heavy price for it themselves. I will share one of my experiences her in during my junior days. We were developing a communication protocol over a proprietary serial bus between the two processors. Software wise it was a very simple minde stuff and even by manual reading of the code one could validate it 100 % that it will work. But since the protocol had to go in a mask we had to be doubly sure that worked without any glithces. We used a emulator and logic analyzer as the test set-up. While testing the code I realised that there was something wrong with the ROM emulator. Its addressing used to go haywire in betwwen and as a result the system used to crash. I showed this to my boss on the log analyzer. But he was so biased against my software that he was not ready to believe that it was bug in the emulator. He suspended me from the project, took another engineer from our group and asked him to prove to me that there was a bug in my software. The other engineer struggled for one week and finally came to the same conclusion that the bug indeed was in the Emulator! Finally my code worked well in the final chip and then only I could heave a sigh of relief!
NASA's Orion Flight Software Production Systems Manager Darrel G. Raines joins Planet Analog Editor Steve Taranovich and Embedded.com Editor Max Maxfield to talk about embedded flight software used in Orion Spacecraft, part of NASA's Mars mission. Live radio show and live chat. Get your questions ready.
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