Amazon Work Ethic: Behind the Curtain
“Nearly every person I worked with I saw cry at their desk.” – Bo Olson, via New York Times
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to catch a glimpse of Amazon from the inside? While many Americans have come to know Amazon from a surface-level consumer perspective, there may be more to this corporation when you peek behind the emerald curtain. At Amazon, employees are referred to as Amazonians who are told to leave the bad habits from their last jobs behind and embrace the unconventional ambitious workplace ideals instilled by Jeff Bezos himself.
Amazon’s dedication to reacting to modern changes from technological advances, to transforming office culture. This permanently unsatisfied company culture Amazon is constructed to purposefully push employees to their limit, challenge their performance, and to always be evolving. This strategy allows Amazon to measure the performance data of their white collar employees, to optimize productivity and increase workplace pressure. The result of this strategy is varied – many employees thrive, embracing this thrilling power to create, while others struggle to succeed in the face of the company’s self-proclaimed “unreasonably high” expectations.
Daily operations in the Amazon corporate office are guided by 14 leadership principles that apply from the highest ranking executives to the lowest level employees. One of the most unique principles stems from Bezos’s belief that social cohesion for the sake of politeness will produce and promote flawed ideas. Employees are expected to disagree and provide direct and even sometimes argumentative feedback – even if doing so is uncomfortable, taxing, or causes tension in the workplace.
Amazon demands a lot from its employees to accomplish its continuously growing ambitions. John Rossman, a former Amazon executive, addressed this tension, saying “It’s the greatest place I hate to work.” As a result of these unconventional ambitious business practices, Amazon is stronger than ever, surpassing Google and Microsoft this year with a market valuation of over $763 billion.
Although Jeff Bezos has set a data driven management structure that many find harsh and unforgiving, it’s impossible to deny its success as Amazon’s user numbers and stock continue to grow radically. Will other companies follow the e-commerce giant’s example to optimize their own profitability?