The Working Mode
How to work in startup vs. big companies
I think at a point in our UX career we thought about this. What the working mode is for startup and big, established companies. I know we all realize this but we always carry over our mindset and habit from our previous companies (or the environment we wish to be in).
I had a manager who came from a startup to work in a relatively big-sized, more established company. This manager previously led a small team in a small startup that shipped everyday, and made decisions quickly with the whole team. Coming to this company, it’s not that straightforward. There will be “approvals” and multiple round of “reviews”, and a lot of stakeholders. We need to keep loop of everything and everyone. Suddenly, this manager sounded frustrated and always tried to push us—the subordinates—to really push things forward, sometimes in an unhealthy way.
On the other hand, I’ve worked mostly in big companies with slower pace and more processes, and I struggled when I came to a startup or a relatively young team when we had to move fast and ship stuff every other week.
I think we underestimate the importance of knowing where a person came from, what sort of environment that person is used to, and aspires to be in.
Hence, my argument is that, when potentially hiring a designer (or anyone in tech), we should consider background fit. I think it’s a subset of cultural fit, where it’s broader. Consider whether this person came from a similar “modus operandi” environment or not. Do we want a person who bias to action and ship stuff, be equally nimble and “impatient” like us, or do we want this person to be methodical, process-oriented, and “politically-correct” (for the lack of better words)?
This can save a ton of time later on.
This includes considering hiring for managers and individual contributors, and I would argue it’s even more important for managerial positions, as they enable the team.
Big companies often have major reorgs every once in a while, or maybe too often sometimes, and employees who think more flexibly (usually those who are used to working in big organizations) would be okay with it. For me, I don’t mind getting re-assigned, even though it’s 2-3 times in a year, because I feel like my primary mission here is simply just to be a cog in the machine, and that’s expected. I don’t come to a big organization hoping to really change the world. Maybe you can, but you have to play a certain influence in the organization and that’s a different ballgame altogether.
So, next time you’re hiring a new designer in your team, check if that person really wants to be in the environment you set, which equals to setting themselves for success.