Thanks, David! Early results on the survey (I'm still coding the spreadsheet and slicing and dicing) suggest overall satisfaction. The big surprise: Most response (2 of 3) are not satisfied with the career opportunities available to them at their company.
Stay tuned for more results next week.
That's a difficult one Brian. I'd say talking to the employees (ie future workmates) is the best if you can do that. In my current job I came over from Africa to Australia for an interview, and with only one flight a week I was around for a few days. I went out on some jobs with my future workmates and was able to pick their brains pretty thoroughly. And the whole atmosphere of the place was just great - like a big happy family. The management then was very oriented towards letting the people who could do things just get on and do them. And it worked, really well.
Since then however the company has gone through a couple of amalgamations and the whole feeling has changed. My immediate team is still great (keeps me sane) and the pay and perks are good, but the management's got a real "us and them" attitude that has pretty much taken away the job satisfaction we used to get. Certainly I would be honest with any prospective employee who asked about the conditions.
(For a bit more see my story:
for an account of why I was lucky to get the job...)
Glen's last comment makes me think: How do you create an early warning system (in the interview process) to sniff out crappy managers? Control freaks and the like?
Is it likely that talking with current employees will yield that kind of insight?
Sounds like someone in your management made a wise decision. I too have had a few good managers on occasion. These ones make the job easier and more productive.
On the other hand, the bad ones can completely demoralize the productive staff.
Example: A factory test engineer emailed me with a question on one of my products. I replied and all was well until his manager got hold of our correspondence. The manager was outraged that he had been bypassed and sent emails to me and my boss that in future all correspondence between factory test and design engineering was to pass through HIM to my boss then to myself.
My boss did not really care the path of correspondence, and did not want to get involved with a self-important moron. Of course the result was that factory test and myself never directly communicated again.
Note that my 99% comment was for "over-bright office lighting", not lab lighting. In the office the remaining 1% is for a pencil used mainly for jotting down notes and phone numbers on Post-It notes, and maybe some basic math. I spent 50% of my time in the lab too, but that was months in the office (designing) followed by months in the lab (testing and bread-boarding and debugging) with some office time writing test reports.
One of the better places (did NOT suck there) my office desk was tucked away in a corner of the lab and my bench was an extension of my desk. I could store a scope waveform on floppy and wheel my chair to my desktop PC. Luxury! Then the growing company moved to a larger building and I became another cube-veal resident, and the lab was smaller but at least was nearby.
No argument with the lighting needs in the lab, and you relate a good solution. I've never experienced lab lighting problems, but HAVE experienced things like soldering irons with worn-out tips and no spares (too expensive) completely unsuitable for surface mount, also lack of a microscope because the hand-me-down had no long extension for large boards and the group leader got rid of it instead of spending the bucks for a better mounting. Which of course made much of my debug time a hunt for fine-pitch solder bridges with a tiny hand-held magnifier. THAT job sucked!
As for the "analog face", you are close. It is an ECL Schmitt trigger from an article in EDN.
I understand one of the most satisfying jobs anywhere is being a bill collector for the wiseguys in New York City. It's one of the very few positions where a person doesn't have to put up with attitudes from customers.
Re: Lights: Um, considering you have an analog "face" (ie. personal logo; differential amp with resistors and everything ... ) I can't believe you would say that:
a) Re: 99 % of all work is done on a workstation:
I spend at least half my time in the lab ... when was the last time you "hand" prototyped/debugged 12 layer boards before with 304 pin QFP's and 0402's by the hundreds ... ?
b) Removing light bulbs:
Some "SmartyPants" efficiency type consultant convinced management to replace all, already inadequate, lighting, with half wattage "blue" bulbs ... again: have you ever prototyped/debugged 12 layer boards before with 304 pin QFP's and 0402's by the hundred ... ? I complained to no avail (policy, policy, policy ...) , and then sighed and went and bought, out of my own pocket (certainly not the first time) "proper" lab bulbs and replaced late at night the dim bulbs. It was a bit of an effort as the ceiling height was about 25 feet tall and involved about 60 bulbs. Co-Workers and medium level management noticed the next day and appreciated it to a person with a nod but were afraid of upper managements wrath which never came.
I believe, as you, that lighting can be lowered in "the Veal Feeding Pens", that is; the cubicle farms that we all seem to spend too much time in these days ...
PS: I do my own layouts and CAD ... but you need the Photons in the lab ...
Nice one's Glen. We had one once where (without warning) the management started to construct an office within our area, that would have totally blocked our outside light (which I realise we are lucky to get). Our protests were to no avail, and our signs outside (Entry to the mushroom club...etc) just made us more unpopular. Coincidentally that week we received an "invitation" to one of those hugfest things that management are so fond of, supposedly to make us feel valued and part of a team. I replied that if management just came in and started altering our area without so much as asking our opinion, I would respectfully decline their invitation to the hugfest, as it was obvious they didn't give a @#$% about us. The next morning workmen came in and took the construction down again. I guess I was lucky, I could just as easily have got a DCM (Don't Come back on Monday) but it sometimes pays to call management's bluff.
Not just management or colleagues can make a job suck. Consider:
Over-bright office lighting:
99% of work is done on workstations. Schematics, pcb layout, word processing. The overhead florescent lights are way too bright requiring high screen brightness. Glare and eyestrain.
A survey of those in adjacent cubes reveals that all would prefer less light. A request to the building facilities department results in "cannot do, federal regulations require a minimum amount of lighting in the work environment." from the facilities manager. Never mind that all desk cubes have additional under-valence lighting.
Engineers solve their own problems. Stand up on a desktop and twist the florescent tubes for no contact. Problem solved until next morning when tubes are found to have been re-inserted overnight.
Stand up on desk and this time completely remove tubes and stack them in a corner. This time the facilities maintenance person realizes that the lighting adjustment is intentional, leaves the tubes alone, and either says nothing to the facilities manager or the manager accepts the inevitable. Problem solved.
The large engineering cubeville had doorways on each of 4 walls. The doorway most convenient to the restrooms and drinking fountain was ordered locked during daytime by an officious security manager. No reason, engineers could get out but the door latched behind them and they had to walk way around the peripheral of the cubeville room to return to their desks through the unlocked doorways.
Again engineering ingenuity solves the problem. Packing tape on the door latch mechanism prevented locking. Security got quite upset when the guard on the beat had to keep pulling packing tape off the door latches. Eventually the engineering manager told security in no uncertain terms that the practice would continue. Security eventually gave up.
Can relate more of these, and I'm sure others have their own horror stories of petty power trips...