NRC (National Research Corporation)

  www.nationalresearch.com
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Technical

  • Comp & Benefits
  • Work/Life Balance
  • Senior Management
  • Culture & Values
  • Career Opportunities
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee  in  Lincoln, NE
Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in Lincoln, NE

Pros

These are highly specific to my personal experience:
- Flexible hours without micro management
- Good benefits
- Minimal travel requirements
- Trust and autonomy
- Understanding and approachable upper management
- A dedicated core staff

Cons

- Dominated by an under-qualified, opportunistic sales force with a leadership mentality bent on short-term gain (median age, approx 25 years)
- Product backed by an equally under-qualified and over-worked service staff (median age, approx 25 years)
- Board leadership with near-complete lack of understanding of (or interest in) a longer-term strategy to grow the company organically via the basic concepts of good managers (Board median age greater than 64 years)
- A repeated tendency for rapid, short-term growth-by-acquisition followed by long-term "disease" in in terms of associate and client retention.
- Extremely over-worked, under-experienced, and unaccountable middle management made up of "promotees" from scant offerings supplied by the remains of the non-management workforce.
- Extreme lack of institutional knowledge caused by continued turnover, loss of veteran associates, and failure to respect the power of training and documentation.
- Severe lack of communication at all levels and almost no accountability of upper management.
- Near-complete lack of upper-management follow through on the employee-engagement program ... zero budget allocated to employee-committee-proposed 2012 action items
- Lack of budget towards infrastructure in favor of largely unnecessary travel expenditures and grossly liberal board/executive payouts ... a very cheap date.

Advice to ManagementAdvice

Feed this company a much larger chunk of the ROI. There is far too much budget restraint in light of the rather extreme profit gain. Reallocate 25% of budget from travel and sales incentives into technology and infrastructure. The return on such an investment would be a gigantic boom in market equity of the company over 5-7 years. In this market, National Research could rather quickly become a 300 million-dollar company and edge out Press Ganey as the dominating market force.

Hire new, veteran management (median age should be around 45 rather than the current 30-35 ... the current management are NOT natural managers) - hint: use a selection firm like Gallup, Talent Plus or Kenexa, as National Research is clearly lacking in terms of management-selection know-how.

Invest in your employees by training them and providing them with clear direction. Provide the materials and equipment that they need. Provide regular salary increases to dedicated employees with a proven track record.

STOP filling management vacancies from within. Hire externally and TAKE THEIR ADVICE.

Fund software development initiatives over the long term, and retain software developers by paying them competitively and providing them with state-of-the-art tools and training opportunities.

STOP expanding the breadth of the company by trying to opportunistically break into new markets. There are simply not enough organic resources available for this luxury. Rather, redouble efforts to solidify the management teams, client/associate support, infrastructure, documentation, and R&D of existing products.

Practice what you preach to your clients. Spend more time looking at improving National Research rather than the scant few of the primary shareholders' returns. Get (and maintain!) your own house in tip-top order instead of acquiring others and leeching them of their value for limited short-term gain.

Doesn't Recommend
Negative Outlook
Disapproves of CEO

Other reviews for NRC (National Research Corporation)

  1.  

    Not a bad place but not a great place. just ok.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Business Development  in  Lincoln, NE
    Current Employee - Business Development in Lincoln, NE

    Pros

    Fun Place to work, lively group of coworkers, drink beers every friday in office, get to do a lot of traveling

    Cons

    senior and junior management are not very good to employees. Take a long time for management to get back to you. The hiring process was about 3 or 4 months

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Tell your employees good job and reward them a little more

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  2.  

    There are so many better places to work in technology - especially in Seattle

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Software Developer  in  Seattle, WA
    Former Employee - Software Developer in Seattle, WA

    Pros

    - Flexible schedules when reasonable (unless they are actively trying to manage you out)
    - Opportunities to have a stable job by being the only person who knows the horrible code base (too valuable to fire or promote)
    - Free beer on Fridays
    - Most employees are nice people who want to do the right thing. This was actually a great thing. I'd work with almost any of them outside the context of NRC. I clearly wasn't working directly with the 'bad apples'.
    - Aware they have problems (but can't stick with any solution plan long enough to see its fruit)
    - Relatively junior employees with ambition may have opportunities to take on senior-level tasks due to the high turn-over among senior engineers. The opportunities for responsibility could offset the career risks of working with the outdated technology for the right kind of person.
    - They "manage out" people who don't fit. This is usually a good thing for those people. Perhaps not so good for the company. Time will tell.

    Cons

    - Acquired a great company that 'did Agile right'', fired 1/3rd of the employees immediately during a recession to look better to public investors, and gradually managed most of the remaining acquired talent out over the next two years. I tend to think that big actions like this tell you a lot about a company's overall values. I know NRC is a business, but there are businesses with differnt philosophies out there.
    - Switched to waterfall life-cycle mid-product cycle from Agile (think minimal Agile documentation, no risk assessment because the plan for risk was iterative development, mid-development switch - with lots of blame on employees when things went wrong) - and on multiple projects at the same time.
    - Blames employees rather than situations, even when management or budgets set employees up for failure; demoralizes employees so they don't feel safe talking about these problems to those who can do anything and end up gossiping instead
    - Pressure on upper- and mid-management gets passed on to employees and management is almost forced to find scapegoats for failures; many of the good managers who don't pass on the pressure quit or "leave to spend more time with family"
    - Old technology and out-of-date business practices put technical employees at risk of career stagnation. If you work here too long, there is a real risk that you may damage your hire-ability due to the lack of opportunity to work with new technologies.
    - You really need a stash of money set aside in case you need to quit your job or in case you get fired, so you have the guts to say and do the right thing; or, you need amazing political acumen so you can CYA at all times.
    - Really weird, old-fashioned ideas about 'loyalty to the company', with no 'loyalty to the employee' in return. We were told not to say things like, "If an engineer moves on to a different company" to explain why we needed documentation, readable code, etc. - instead, we should use the "hit by a bus" example. Despite the high turnover, the company still liked us to pretend that the main reason people would be leaving was death.
    - I had health problems that improved dramatically within days after I quit working here. Working the long hours and caring about the job enough to let it affect my health was my choice, but I prefer to work at a company where I can care about my job without getting sick.
    - I was able to get 4 higher-paying offers with better benefits and more flexibility within two weeks of posting my resume on Dice, all within 10 blocks of the Seattle office. There's just too many other opportunities in Seattle for mid-to-senior level employees, with the hot start-up scene here. NRC could be a reasonable choice for a junior developer with a lot of ambition who can self-start well and can handle politics gracefully. Such a person could pick up a lot really fast by being prepared to take over when more senior devs get managed out, and then quit after 2 to 3 years to work somewhere better with a lot of relatively senior experience.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Listen to all of the advice you've already been given, and keep soliciting more.

    Stop covering your rears - it's not good for your career, and it's not good for the company. You might lose your job now for doing the right thing, but that frees you up to find a better opportunity at a company that won't blame you for failures that occur due to lack of time, money, or resources that someone else isn't giving you. People at the bottom need to be able to focus on doing their jobs, not on defending themselves from their coworker's or manager's efforts to shift blame. You can help them by being an "umbrella", protecting them from politics and blame rather than passing them on so they can focus on solving your problems.

    Don't assume that employees at the bottom are actually receiving the benefit of policies designed to give them direction; overloaded middle-managers don't always have time for 'minor' things like 1:1's, goal-setting, or career development. Your middle-managers, like everyone else, are severely overworked, and regular 1:1s are one of the first things to go.

    If your gut response is to blame those middle-managers for not doing their jobs, you're still missing the message: It's not their fault. They have too much work, and something has to go.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO
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