Culture, Manager, and Pay

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Early years

When I first got out of University all I wanted to do was start my first job. I didn’t really care much about what industry I got into, all I knew was that I wanted to make money and buy stuff. My break came in the form of an IT job working for an ISP in 1995 as a Tech Support person. My priority for the next couple of jobs was on building my pay and elevating my title. When I look back I still had not considered culture, but after a couple of jobs I had a better understanding of what characteristics a good manager needed to possess.

Getting into the Groove

As I approached my mid 20’s I chose the management path as a way to control my destiny and protect myself and others from poor management decisions learned from the last 5 years of work. Pay was still equally important but culture was not something that was high on my radar and, to be honest, I really didn’t understand what constituted as work culture.

… Time goes by

Reaching my mid to late 30’s I enjoyed a steady salary increase and accepted the poor management decisions of my peers and management above me. Many of my friends eventually cycled through several organizations while I stayed in one particular organization for a fairly long time. In retrospect I stayed because the culture of this work environment was really sourced from one particular individual with a vision, or rather he was a visionary for this company. 

When he left, the people in my department slowly attritioned out and I eventually realized that bit by bit things had changed. You convince yourself that change is beneficial and recognize that each replacement brings different ideas to the table. However, what takes you a long time to realize is that you no longer fit into that equation, or that you haven’t really changed while everyone else has.

More data points…

During the last two years I worked for a company that had an old work culture. When I say old culture I guess I mean back in 1970’s or 1980’s. To me this is where management simply asks, “why are things not done” and “why haven’t you started?” They didn’t take into account the importance of priority, nor did they ask if the project was profitable or if they could afford the project. So often these projects got started, stopped and then restarted again. I would think the organizational culture is pathological but at times it could be viewed as bureaucratic (definitely not regenerative).

In any case I was fighting culture that pre-existed before me, and being able to change that culture proved to be too hard when everyone was constantly fighting you. I never realized that company cultures could get to that point, especially not companies that dealt with critical situations.

What next?

So now I am hoping my next 20 years of my work career will be about culture. Money seems to have reached a point where it is still important, but not deemed significant enough to sacrifice the advantage of a good manager and a healthy work culture. It’s interesting how things we value change over time.


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