VitalSmarts, a company studying and applying principles of human behavior to shape organizational behavior and change, wanted to know what makes working in tech differ from other companies—if there is a difference.
If you’re a business owner or work within a tech company, you know the highs and lows involved within the company. Certain traits within the tech industry exist that may not exist, or appear at a lesser degree in other industries. High turnover rates, the high demand for hard-to-find, technical talent, and intense feelings abide.
VitalSmarts explored how the DNA of a tech company differs from other companies and institutions. Their research spanned 3,600 participants, equally between managers and employees; individuals came from both the tech and non-tech sectors. As interviews progressed, four categories emerged what makes tech uniquely challenging. According to the research team, these 4 categories are foretell the organization’s innovation structure.
1. If the company or project is not the “coolest”—even by a narrow margin—handling top-tier talent is a challenge. Employees will move to another company or project if they feel they aren’t working on the most revered initiatives.
2. Relentless pressure fosters a “hero” culture, which is problematic when it comes to creating a sustainable work life.
3. Tech employees must navigate murky waters when projects are unclear; often the goals of a project, or an entire company, may pivot unexpectedly.
4. The “one big network” effect creates system where personal rapport is given higher priority to fixing problems or keeping colleagues accountable.
VitalSmart found that even experienced managers from other companies did not receive training to address these differences.
If you manage people within a tech company, what can you do to address these points?
1. Initiate a culture of dialogue
Culture makes the difference between a good company and a great company. Having great company culture does not mean free lunches and office bikes; its means creating a transparent culture. Take a page from Ray Dalio, the founder and manager of Bridgewater Associates
“Imagine if you had baseball cards that showed all the performance stats for your people: battling averages, home runs, errors, ERAs, win/loss records. You could see what they did well and poorly and call on the right people to play the right positions in a very transparent way”.
Build a culture that creates dialogue, where people can talk about the status quo within your company. Where they can openly discuss how they feel their job descriptions are murky or that a project is pointless. Employees should feel comfortable to engage in volatile topics. Working in tech demands openness, or else…
2. Build a culture of accountability
Ray Dalio would be proud. Even as a head of an organization that counts Microsoft and world governments as clients, Dalio receives emails from lower-level employees criticizing his performance in a meeting. Build a place where leaders are held accountable and want to open the floor to clear communication. The cultures that clearly address their internal problems are better situated to face the external pressures a tech company often faces.
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At absence.io, we aim to support companies keep their culture on point. Our absence management system is trusted by MyTheresa, Check24, and even governments.