I learned this lesson during my time at a company with a negative corporate culture. Early on while researching the position, I'd heard from an acquaintance who worked there that it was a good organization. That might've been true for the person who referred me, but I found out quickly it was not the case for those of us in the technology department.
For example, upon arrival on my first day, I was supposed to take part in new employee orientation, but no one was available for the task. Instead, they were all fighting fires, so to speak -- one of the critical systems had failed. As the day went on, I discovered the company had a lot more issues with its technology infrastructure. I almost wanted to walk out and pretend I hadn't accepted the offer.
I decided to see what the next day would bring, but it was much of the same: critical systems problems, with no time to do anything other than tend to emergencies. Organization and planning were nearly nonexistent.
After two weeks, I was about ready to walk -- and I would have, had I not been promoted by the CIO. I'm not sure why I signed on. Perhaps I thought I could make changes for the better.
In any case, after the promotion I was in charge of overseeing all the issues that popped up every day. Senior management -- those at the very top who have no idea what's really going on -- wanted all the problems to be fixed in three months, which was a totally unrealistic expectation.
Over the preceding five years, the company had neglected its infrastructure and kept building on top of what it had. It ended up with a lot of systems that weren't updated or maintained, which then cascaded into a myriad of issues. One coworker explained it best when he said that working there was like working on a car that was currently being driven.
Due to management's unreasonable expectations, few tech people (particularly senior members) stuck around. I noticed from employment records that a majority of the techs notched only a year of service. Some of the bigger projects could end up with several different leads, and because people didn't stay put, nobody took responsibility for the long-term goals ("it's not my problem anymore"). As a result, the infrastructure was a huge mess.
I realized that to really fix the issues, I had to rally my team and make repairs. With a lot of overtime and pretty much ignoring anything the senior execs threw our way, we eventually stabilized the infrastructure after nearly two years of hard work.
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