Thinking back to my last career in leadership, it's still amazing to me how many managers and indeed companies seem to be either unaware and/or underestimate the underlying impact of company culture. So from my new engineer seat, what does a "management problem" have to do with my current career and cloud engineers in general?
The short answer is everything. Senior Managers as a group are stewards of business decisions to either move into the cloud as a digital platform provider or be a consumer of cloud products for their own digital product offerings. Such a move is strategic in nature, which feeds into complex business and technological changes from within the organization. This impacts the resulting culture that is our working lives.
As a cloud engineer, here are some relevant questions one should ask oneself when considering this question of company culture and happiness:
- Am I motivated and energized by projects enjoying the structure of tasking around a project, which engages my skillsets and allows me to grow as a cloud engineer?
- When operational issues present themselves, do I feel there is a positive intent around resolving them to a level that is sustainable in my view?
- Does my team share the base values that I will hold true to no matter what? Does my interaction with more business orientated functions suggest relative alignment with those core values?
- Does my manager/leader treat me with the respect I consider appropriate for my role do they respond positively to my interactions both positive and negative?
- Do I feel comfortable enough to engage in constructive criticism when warranted, does my manager appreciate such feedback?
- Do I feel generally comfortable in my role and do feel I have the space to operate as an engineer, which includes the room to create when required??
- Is the above likely to change over the next 12 months and if so, is it going in the direction that is good for me personally as well as professionally??
These are some key questions that will allow you to define your culture fit, what you require and what the company requires of you to 'fit in'. Modelling company culture is modelled visually in this article's feature image, and for convenience is set out below. Bear in mind, the vast majority of companies are a mix of all 4 cultural influences but tend to gravitate towards 1 axis via 1 of 2 cultural types. Those types are as follows:
- Clan Culture - Cultural focus on close-knit people communities in companies with a family orientated feeling to your colleagues and management alike. There is flexibility to act and trust in the delegation of authority to do so. The cost can be a loss of focus on the customer's wants and needs.
- Adhocracy Culture - Cultural focus on projects and strong structures around innovation, not functional process. The execution of projects (e.g. new product deployment) is culturally valued over process functions like production support/maintenance. There is a great amount of skill around projects, which can be at the cost of more process orientated areas to run and scale the business. Employees with project execution skills culturally tend to be the most valued.
- Hierarchical Culture - Cultural focus on process, and building documented structures governing the company's functional ecosystem. This culture is considered the 'old school' culture as it is built upon traditional department functions creating silos, which is great for scaling but not for innovation. The latter is the cost over time as this culture attracts those disposed to becoming ambassadors of the hierarchical structure, which is more valued than out of the box thinkers disposed to innovation and challenging the norm.
- Market Culture - Cultural focus on customer delivery. Everything else is culturally subordinate to it. This culture is very customer-focused and those with skill sets that directly impact the customer in a positive manner are rewarded for it. Notable is that their direct contribution to customer success is rewarded at the cost of those with indirectly impacting skills, which may be no less customer-impacting over time. Contractors tend to fill the resulting skills gaps in this culture that are not retainable by the company via direct employment.
Bearing all this in mind, it's not hard that the combination of cultural types and values are indeed a mix that one can map to a 2 axis conclusion around internal or external focus with a view to Stability and Control or Flexibility to Act. It defines the cultural soup we work in daily which leaves the cloud engineer with a final question. Do I like my everyday cultural soup or do I need to change brand? Such a question does not get answered overnight but over the right amount of time for the individual, who can use the above model to get the data-driven perspective to choose wisely for their future.
Stay tuned for more on Writing in this blog along with articles on other areas of interest in the Infrastructure and DevOps arenas. To not miss out on any updates on my availability, tips on related areas or anything of interest to all, sign up for one of my newsletters in the footer of any page on Maolte. I look forward to us becoming pen pals!