Bruising Workplace?

A modern workplace plagued by some of the same old office politics

Update: Interesting first-person account of life at Amazon, by a manager who’s been there 18 months - Article

A mazon has been an incredible company for users and investors and become very well respect company over the years. Now every company has their own problems but for a company to have been functioning exceptionally, what costs must we pay? There have been many horror stories of cases in big companies where employees essentially get punished for problems that are out of their hand, for instance taking leave during sickness. These are all obviously serious issues but more importantly, when they come out to public light, reporters have to be very careful in the manner the reporting is done.

I think too frequently, it is done in what I call the shaken-coke-can approach. Just like when you shake a coke can and open it, all the gas comes exploding out along with the liquid, these stories come out packed with problems all at once. Now if one of those issues is debunked, we all just say, oh yeah most of this article is bogus too. It’s a very simplistic generalization but it could be incredible harmful because we are ignoring serious issues. In any case, this time in spotlight is Amazon.

Can some of these issues be justified? Here’s one line of reasoning from a recruiter. They justify it as simply part of doing challenging work:

“This is a company that strives to do really big, innovative, groundbreaking things, and those things aren’t easy,” said Susan Harker, Amazon’s top recruiter. “When you’re shooting for the moon, the nature of the work is really challenging. For some people it doesn’t work.”

Maybe, but the workplace can certainly be made into a better place. I think Ben Horowitz talked about this in an interview. He was talking about if you build a company with a bad culture, what have you really done? “You have just made a whole lot of people, a whole lot more miserable.” This is an important idea because the culture is not only important for the company to move forward, but also to the employees for enriching their own lives. That’s crucial for their own personal development because otherwise long-term employees burn out. Maybe that’s the idea, not keeping anyone for long-term because fresh talent is simply better to hire. In any case, here’s the full story:

Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace