National Renewable Energy Lab
3.6 of 5 54 reviews
www.nrel.gov Golden, CO 1000 to 5000 Employees

54 Employee Reviews (View Most Recent)

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3 people found this helpful  

Great People and Mission, Poor Leadership and Bureaucratic

Senior Professional (Current Employee)
Golden, CO

ProsThe mission can't be beat, and most people care deeply about their work. For the most part, the people are great to work with. The location and facilities are excellent. The technical work (research, analysis, commercialization/deployment) is second to none. Leadership is finally beginning to buy in to tele-working, alternative work schedules, etc., making work/life balance easier and showing more commitment to sustainability.

ConsHaving been at NREL for 30 years, I offer this observation in relation to previous leadership regimes.

The managing partnership is dysfunctional, as the partners are more concerned with their own agendas than the success of NREL. High-level managers are appointed and retained based in their ability to "toe the line," not based on their abilities, skills, or general competence. Senior managers are rewarded solely based on their ability to "manage up," since staff input and feedback is discouraged and mostly ignored. Examples: COO manages from a military mindset. The one avenue for employees to express concerns to Leadership ("Anything Goes") experiences 6-month backlogs before Leadership decides to offer some responses. This refusal of Leaders to listen to employee feedback puts Leadership out of touch. Likewise, communication from the top down is sparse, since managers are not evaluated on this (see above).

Despite claims that creativity is encouraged (and a core value!), bureaucracy is thick, unyielding, and largely self-imposed (far and above federal/DOE requirements). Employees are encouraged to be innovative but slam into a wall of resistance and bureaucracy when they try. The easy answers are "no", "can't", and "don't", so answers like "let's work together to try and make this work" are rare. As a result, most employees give up on such creative or innovative endeavours. They are left with the conclusion that compliance is the real core value.

NREL's leaders are good people. The leadership model is not.

Advice to Senior ManagementThis is a real and serious situation, and it's getting worse! Please re-evaluate and redesign the system by which senior managers are measured. Make excellence the standard, not compliance. Walk the talk re. innovation, and work to break down barriers instead of rewarding their sustenance. Above all, stop the infighting and work together for the good of NREL, not your parent companies!

Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend

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    A great phd Experience if you can handel the bureaucracy

    Graduate Research Assistant (Current Employee)
    Golden, CO

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab


    Pros: -Large amount of knowledge in the areas of renewable energy -Great… Cons: -They take safety a little too much to the extreme… Advice to Senior Management: -Scientists should be in charge of more of the lab experience so that the people… Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend More
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    overall great place to work

    Senior Engineer I (Current Employee)
    Golden, CO

    I have been working at National Renewable Energy Lab


    Pros: some of the smartest people i've met working on some very important issues. … Cons: being funded mostly by the US Department of Energy creates a weird dynamic because of the one year funding cycles… Advice to Senior Management: the political hoops to jump through to get work done can be quite painful and it feels like their is… Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend More
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