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How to evaluate a manager/company culture I might work in?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

To give context, earlier I worked at a company that fires a bunch of people very quickly, and it's really shaken my confidence in my abilities. At that company, I faced very stringent deadlines, and tough scrutiny for mistakes with PRs and got let go in 3 months. I have an offer from a different company, and I want to make sure this one isn't like that.

On blind, I've come to know at least 3 occurrences of engineers from this new company being let go rather quickly (< 6 months), and according to them they were not really given any indication that they were underperforming. Most employees of the company though said that people are given adequate notice that they need to improve. What I've been told is that this type of firing is not that frequent at that company.

I am having a chat with a manager at the company soon, and I want to see if his team is a high pressure/intensity/PIP type of team. Obviously, I can't outright ask him that, but what are some questions I could ask to get a hint of this kind of information? I am in a place in life where I need time outside of work to do things outside of tech, and I don't want to always work in fear of loosing my job, so I'm trying to see if working in this team would allow me to do that or not. Thanks in advance for the advice :)

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(2 comments)
  • 0
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    Tech Lead/Manager at Meta, Pinterest, Kosei
    a year ago

    I wouldn't put too much stock in Blind, since it will attract people at the extremes, especially those with very negative experiences at the company. At the same time, since there are 3 different stories about this, it's worth digging into and chatting with the manager.

    Since Blind will be overly negative and your future manager will be overly positive, do you have a trusted friend at the company? They should be fairly neutral.

    Some questions for your manager to evaluate the type of team you're joining:

    • What have been difficulties with work/life balance on the team, and what steps are you taking to address them?
    • What are the expectations for the first 6 months of the job, during the onboarding phase?
    • How will I know if I'm meeting (and exceeding) expectations for the role? How do you prefer to deliver feedback?
    • How frequently do you have 1:1s with each member of the team?

    See also the masterclass about team selection where we cover some questions.

    Daniel Tomko and I chatted about some of the good reasons to go into management in this video, so you could ask those questions (just ask "why did you decide to become a manager?").

  • 1
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    Senior Software Engineer [L5] at Google
    a year ago

    A bit late to this topic, but I had a thought to add on top of Rahul's great recommendation, especially if you are not just trying to find a decent manager, but a great one.

    To find a great manager, interview their reports.

    You want to ask them how they feel about their manager and the culture. Go straight in with something like "How do you like X as your manager?" and you can dive into specific questions later.

    You want to do this because engineers will typically give much more honest perspective and will try less hard to sell you on the team/company, and can potentially address your concerns about the PIP culture. But more importantly, you want do this because engineers generally can't wait to tell how much they love their manager if they've got a great one.

    All managers have flaws, but great managers are leaders who inspire loyalty in ways you will only know once you've reported to one. I've had about... 8 managers in my 8 years of being in the industry (wow I've gone through one a year 🤣), and two of them were phenomenal people I would work for again if given the chance, and I know almost everyone on the team felt the same way.

    If the response you get is a neutral "meh" or a mildly positive "oh yeah, they are good, I guess", then it means the manager is not that good. Great manager will get you responses like "they are the best manager I've ever worked for", "they are soooo gooood!!", and the people will be able to tell you multiple instances the manager helped them when they needed the most.

    Best of luck to you - and to anyone else in the search!