Episode 411: We have a secret org chart and I'm a big fish in a little pond


In this episode, Dave and Jamison answer these questions:

  1. Hi :-)

    I work as a Senior Data Scientist, and about half a year ago I joined a start up that was founded by a large corporation. And while this job comes with the perks of a bigger company - like good salary, paid overtime, … , - it also comes with its organizational overhead and politics:

    We are only about 30 people but already a quarter of us acts as managers. I write “act” because the official org chart is flat (with the CEO at the top and the rest of us directly underneath). The unofficial org chart is hidden and depending on who you speak with, you get their view point on how roles and responsibilities should look like. As a result, I’m left with putting together the pieces to build a picture that somewhat resembles the truth. So far, I’ve concluded that we have multiple (!) management layers, that there’s a power war taking place in the middle management layer, and that you can make up your own titles that mean NOTHING, because no one has any official, disciplinary authority over any one, but that are still to be respected! What a great opportunity for job crafting :-D

    To make things worse, I prefer and come from organizations that have a truly flat hierarchy. For example, I’m used to step outside of my role should the situation require it (like doing some managerial tasks, supporting sales, …) and that I can speak my mind, irrespective of what the title of the person is who I’m talking to. While this was beneficial in my previous positions, this does not work well here! And while I understand that adapting my behavior would be more in line with the company culture, I find this extremely difficult. On the one hand, because of the hidden org chart, on the other because we are all fully remote and I rarely see people from other teams.

    To avoid accidentally stepping on anyone’s toes, my current solution is to stick my head in the sand and focus on my coding. However, this leaves me disgruntled because I feel like I’m not being myself, and that I’m withholding a viable part of my skill set: to see the bigger picture and serve the company as a whole instead of just implementing tickets.

    Please help, I do not understand how this company works :’-D How would you navigate the situation? I don’t want to quit because, individually, my coworkers are super nice, and the work is really interesting.

    All the best <3

  2. Hi,

    I’ve been working at a well-known multinational company for a few years now. The entire time I’ve been here, the company has been well behind what I believe to be industry standards, but they have some great perks, which means it’s been really easy for me to create “wow” ideas (just do the same thing that everybody else has been doing for a few years).

    At the risk of sounding full of myself, I’ve noticed that I’ve created a critical person risk. There’s not only no push for me to train others in my work; things I thought were standard knowledge is entirely new to this team! I don’t want to become the trainer for a team that has no desire to learn new skills, and I don’t want to dumb down my work either. Is there a happy medium where I can build exciting new things and not create an absolute craphow when I leave? Should I even care about it since no one else does?

Show Notes

A speech bubble