Recruiters
June 20, 2020

What’s Going on with Silicon Valley Job Culture?

From issues to management styles, to hiring practices that reflect clear non-traditionalism, individuals, including Elon Musk have grown tired and annoyed by some of the organizational practices in Silicon Valley.
Source: Unsplash

Elon Musk, the co-founder of Tesla and Space-X, has tweeted several times in the last year or so complaining about Silicon Valley’s tech industry, some of the faulty hiring decisions, and some of the problems with dysfunction in general from the industry and tech “culture” that goes on in Northern California.

He tweeted in April that “Silicon Valley has become Sanctimonious Valley”, thus reiterating a concern that while tech giants in this town are some of the greatest innovators of the world, the scene has more or less become rife with individuals and management teams that believe they are morally superior to the rest. This is backed up by other researchers who have conducted surveys on management teams in the Valley who “felt they didn’t need to undergo management training before leading a team.”

In one Medium post, Bruce Bookman, a mobile application developer states:

“Even if managers have deep experience and training on hiring best practices, the other people involved in the process may not. If only 50% of managers are getting training once per year, it is easy to assume the statistics for staff employees receiving interview skills training is miniscule.”

Management Styles and Leadership

One of the biggest issues along with a lack of training of managers, or training that does not happen as frequently as it should in Silicon Valley, is a lack of real leadership. HBR covers this angle by stating that, “…for too long, companies have wasted time, energy, and resources hiring the wrong managers and then attempting to train them to be who they’re not. Nothing fixes the wrong pick.”

In Silicon Valley, this problem is compounded by technical wizards who are great programmers, and the founders and intellectuals behind the “idea” they are trying to turn into a business and then scale it. The problem is that successful managers need to lead a team, which cannot be done if the technical expert does not have the right leadership qualities or HR, as in the case of most startups, does not have the budget to run leadership exercises or programming. This issue affects the Silicon Valley community disproportionately because there are so many companies that are founded by technical wizards and programmers.

The issue of talent also comes to mind when thinking about good leaders:

“Talents are innate and are the building blocks of great performance. Knowledge, experience, and skills develop our talents, but unless we possess the right innate talents for our job, no amount of training or experience will matter.”

Here are some qualities of a talented manager, according to HBR:

·      They are good motivators

·      They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.

·      They create a culture of clear accountability.

·      They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.

·      They make decisions that are based on productivity, not politics.

 As for this last bullet point, something should be said about the current political turbulence and how that affects organizational culture. Increasingly, and perhaps not the fault of some Silicon Valley managers and organizations, the current times is making it more likely that  employees internalize office conflicts as inherently political. In other words, societal pressure from the external, during tough economic and political times in history, can affect the work performance of everyone, and Silicon Valley is not immune to such phenomena.

The Hiring of College Dropouts

Although it is not necessarily a bad thing and gives many opportunities to those who are less fortunate or were simply unable to afford an advanced degree, Silicon Valley also has a reputation for hiring those without four-year degrees. Such non-traditionalism has sparked discontent from candidates who have been in academia for a long time, only to be beaten out for a position by someone who developed their hacking talents while in high school. It might not seem like a big deal, and quite frankly very fair if the latter candidate had more appropriate skills, but the problem is surrounded again by leaders in Silicon Valley who are not transparent about admitting how they hire, and this is what causes frustration amongst the masses.

It also brings to mind if those with more exposure to social situations, being socialized at a four-year degree program, but with a little less technical skill, are still apt for positions in this town. The answer, is, of course, a little bit of both.

TagsSilicon ValleyJob Culture
Michael Robbins
Writer
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

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RecruitersJune 20, 2020
What’s Going on with Silicon Valley Job Culture?
From issues to management styles, to hiring practices that reflect clear non-traditionalism, individuals, including Elon Musk have grown tired and annoyed by some of the organizational practices in Silicon Valley.

Elon Musk, the co-founder of Tesla and Space-X, has tweeted several times in the last year or so complaining about Silicon Valley’s tech industry, some of the faulty hiring decisions, and some of the problems with dysfunction in general from the industry and tech “culture” that goes on in Northern California.

He tweeted in April that “Silicon Valley has become Sanctimonious Valley”, thus reiterating a concern that while tech giants in this town are some of the greatest innovators of the world, the scene has more or less become rife with individuals and management teams that believe they are morally superior to the rest. This is backed up by other researchers who have conducted surveys on management teams in the Valley who “felt they didn’t need to undergo management training before leading a team.”

In one Medium post, Bruce Bookman, a mobile application developer states:

“Even if managers have deep experience and training on hiring best practices, the other people involved in the process may not. If only 50% of managers are getting training once per year, it is easy to assume the statistics for staff employees receiving interview skills training is miniscule.”

Management Styles and Leadership

One of the biggest issues along with a lack of training of managers, or training that does not happen as frequently as it should in Silicon Valley, is a lack of real leadership. HBR covers this angle by stating that, “…for too long, companies have wasted time, energy, and resources hiring the wrong managers and then attempting to train them to be who they’re not. Nothing fixes the wrong pick.”

In Silicon Valley, this problem is compounded by technical wizards who are great programmers, and the founders and intellectuals behind the “idea” they are trying to turn into a business and then scale it. The problem is that successful managers need to lead a team, which cannot be done if the technical expert does not have the right leadership qualities or HR, as in the case of most startups, does not have the budget to run leadership exercises or programming. This issue affects the Silicon Valley community disproportionately because there are so many companies that are founded by technical wizards and programmers.

The issue of talent also comes to mind when thinking about good leaders:

“Talents are innate and are the building blocks of great performance. Knowledge, experience, and skills develop our talents, but unless we possess the right innate talents for our job, no amount of training or experience will matter.”

Here are some qualities of a talented manager, according to HBR:

·      They are good motivators

·      They have the assertiveness to drive outcomes and the ability to overcome adversity and resistance.

·      They create a culture of clear accountability.

·      They build relationships that create trust, open dialogue, and full transparency.

·      They make decisions that are based on productivity, not politics.

 As for this last bullet point, something should be said about the current political turbulence and how that affects organizational culture. Increasingly, and perhaps not the fault of some Silicon Valley managers and organizations, the current times is making it more likely that  employees internalize office conflicts as inherently political. In other words, societal pressure from the external, during tough economic and political times in history, can affect the work performance of everyone, and Silicon Valley is not immune to such phenomena.

The Hiring of College Dropouts

Although it is not necessarily a bad thing and gives many opportunities to those who are less fortunate or were simply unable to afford an advanced degree, Silicon Valley also has a reputation for hiring those without four-year degrees. Such non-traditionalism has sparked discontent from candidates who have been in academia for a long time, only to be beaten out for a position by someone who developed their hacking talents while in high school. It might not seem like a big deal, and quite frankly very fair if the latter candidate had more appropriate skills, but the problem is surrounded again by leaders in Silicon Valley who are not transparent about admitting how they hire, and this is what causes frustration amongst the masses.

It also brings to mind if those with more exposure to social situations, being socialized at a four-year degree program, but with a little less technical skill, are still apt for positions in this town. The answer, is, of course, a little bit of both.

Silicon Valley
Job Culture
About the author
Michael Robbins -Writer
Michael is a writer that helps organizations align their mission and values to a wide audience.

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