Je travaille chez Fitbit à plein temps (Plus d'un an)
- Offices in downtown SF. No south bay commute is nice.
- Cool to work on hardware products.
- Raw passion and compassion for colleagues at the lowest levels of the hierarchy.
Buckle up, buttercup.
- Lack of vision from top leadership on whether we want to be a health company or a consumer electronics company. This creates a fragmented and broken product portfolio. Latest smartwatch release is a prime example. It pales in comparison to almost any other smartwatch on the market, and though it is equipped some more advanced sensors, they are not functional on the product because the software work required wasn't completed.
- Numerous layers of completely inept middle management are given way too much power. The largest piece of this problem is the product management org, which needs to be completely gutted. The new trimester planning process is a turf war, consisting of weeks to months of bitter fighting to get features on the roadmap. We end up committing to doing too much, since NO ONE seems to do any resource planning to figure out whether we actually have the staff to build what the PM org and execs put on the roadmap. The actual dev and design teams who will be tasked with the work have little voice in this process and only find out the results at the end. Compounding all of these problems, the planning cycle takes so long and happens three times per year which means we're almost always in a planning cycle and continuously shifting around our priorities.
- Teams across the product development side of the house (sw and fw engineering, QA, design) are all understaffed. This leads to dismal team morale, constant tension between ICs in these teams, and very high attrition rates even by Silicon Valley standards. Some employees are so overworked that they come in even when sick because they have too much on their plates to take time off.
- Due to overcommitting and lack of resources, the scope and feature set of products we release are usually severely cut from the original plan for the product, to the point that the original vision for the product is barely recognizable in what is actually released.
- Major lack of diversity especially in management teams. Mostly white men. The company has no visible programs to foster diversity in hiring. There are some special interest programs once already inside, but they don't seem very active. Fitbit's answer to our diversity problem is "we don't have one."
- C-level leadership is not present and feels disconnected from the rank and file. Bi-weekly all hands meetings feel more like a mandatory address from a dictator than an open dialogue. I have worked at companies much larger than Fitbit, with *thousands* more employees on their HQ campuses, and still felt the executive leadership was more open and connected to staff. The CEO and CTO really should take a pause from whatever they do on a daily basis and take time to meet with a listen to all of the teams building out their products.
-- As a sub-item to this, there is a lack of transparent communication from the top down at Fitbit. Exec leaders yack all the time about how they are working to improve this, but little has changed. Prime example: earlier this summer, there were apparently some kind of violent threats made against our San Francisco HQ. The company sent out cryptic emails telling all of us to work from home and not come into the office, but leaving us otherwise in the dark. This came from HR, not even the C-level execs. This went on for several days, with nightly emails saying to "keep working from home tomorrow." After a week, they claimed they worked with law enforcement to confirm it was safe for us to return to the offices, but never shared exactly what the threats were or what steps were taken to keep all of us safe in the future. The entire situation was completely mishandled. Reminds me of our layoffs in Jan '17, but I'm sure there are enough Glassdoor reviews on those so I'll skip over that subject.
- There is no formal performance review process at Fitbit. There is only a self service check in web app that is fairly useless. Some departments have come up with their own performance review processes which are biased and opaque. Apparently I have had several performance reviews in my time at the company but no one has ever shared any of the results with me. When I surfaced this complaint to HR, they asked, "have you ever had a conversation that seemed like it _could have been_ a performance review?" *jaw drops*.
Given this lack of clear evaluation, promotions seem unfair and opaque, and many ICs and even team leads do way more than their job description but still don't get promoted. This increases our attrition problem. Some who have left have told me they were offered (long overdue) promotions on their way out, which just feels pathetic.
- Our entire marketing organization has a very poor understanding of our product portfolio and relies heavily on people in the product development side of the house to do their jobs for them. They have dozens of project managers, coordinators, and other oversight roles but not enough executors which means they outsource or try to force others to fill in on the execution.
- Archaic tools and lack of proper productivity technology and processes result in an insane amount of unruly emails, lost decisions, and lack of clarity across functions of the product development org. It is baffling to me how little this company invests in basic project management and team planning software. Our Jira structure is a giant mess with a huge part of the prod dev org sharing one single Jira project with tens of thousands of tickets (not at all how Jira is supposed to work). Different teams also use Jira in different ways which makes it even less effective. Our Wiki is a joke with thousands of unorganized, duplicate, and abandoned pages. This is such an easy problem to solve compared to all the others this company faces. Will someone WAKE UP and smell the roses already?!
- Lack of office perks including no food, poor snack choices which never change (and unhealthy ones at that).
Conseils à la direction
- Stop trying to crank out hardware products without any regard for whether they have compelling market value or not. Spend more time thinking about and explaining your vision for the company to all of us, if there is one.
- Staff up teams in the prod dev org so that you have enough resources to build out your product roadmap, or cut down the roadmap. You are going to burn out your entire staff or literally drive us into the grave.
- Have lower level staff submit goals for middle tier management and work out a system for said management to be accountable to reaching those goals or at least attempting to solve problems in their org.
- Do a listening tour with all of the teams involved in the prod-dev process.
- Give us better collaboration and communication tools, and a few more heads to do knowledge management.
- Implement a better and more transparent performance review process, with safeguards to make sure staff are promoted appropriately when doing the responsibilities of higher roles, to prevent them from leaving to level up.