Amazon employees entering the amazon Business Name Ideas’s offices in Seattle. It recently became the most valuable retailer in the country. SEATTLE — On Monday mornings, fresh recruits line up for an orientation intended to catapult them into Amazon’s singular way of working. The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Amazon is building new offices in Seattle and, in about three years, will have enough space for about 50,000 employees. Many of the newcomers filing in on Mondays may not be there in a few years. The company’s winners dream up innovations that they roll out to a quarter-billion customers and accrue small fortunes in soaring stock.
When you’re shooting for the moon, the nature of the work is really challenging. For some people it doesn’t work. Bo Olson was one of them. He lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said that his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. Thanks in part to its ability to extract the most from employees, Amazon is stronger than ever. Its swelling campus is transforming a swath of this city, a 10-million-square-foot bet that tens of thousands of new workers will be able to sell everything to everyone everywhere. Tens of millions of Americans know Amazon as customers, but life inside its corporate offices is largely a mystery.
The company authorized only a handful of senior managers to talk to reporters for this article, declining requests for interviews with Mr. Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk. In interviews, some said they thrived at Amazon precisely because it pushed them past what they thought were their limits. Elisabeth Rommel, a retail executive who was one of those permitted to speak.
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Others who cycled in and out of the company said that what they learned in their brief stints helped their careers take off. And more than a few who fled said they later realized they had become addicted to Amazon’s way of working. It would certainly be much easier and socially cohesive to just compromise and not debate, but that may lead to the wrong decision. Amazon may be singular but perhaps not quite as peculiar as it claims. Clay Parker Jones, a consultant who helps old-line businesses become more responsive to change. On a recent morning, as Amazon’s new hires waited to begin orientation, few of them seemed to appreciate the experiment in which they had enrolled.
Only one, Keith Ketzle, a freckled Texan triathlete with an M. New employees arrive at the campus of Amazon in Seattle. The company holds orientation sessions on Mondays. He wanted his grandmother to stop smoking, he recalled in a 2010 graduation speech at Princeton. He didn’t beg or appeal to sentiment. He just did the math, calculating that every puff cost her a few minutes. You’ve taken nine years off your life!
He was 10 at the time. According to early executives and employees, Mr. Bezos was determined almost from the moment he founded Amazon in 1994 to resist the forces he thought sapped businesses over time — bureaucracy, profligate spending, lack of rigor. The result was the leadership principles, the articles of faith that describe the way Amazonians should act. The workplace should be infused with transparency and precision about who is really achieving and who is not. You can work long, hard or smart, but at Amazon. Amazon employees and family members attending a company picnic.
Some fathers at Amazon said they considered quitting because of pressure from bosses to spend less time with their families. Rossman, the former executive, said that Mr. While the Amazon campus appears similar to those of some tech giants — with its dog-friendly offices, work force that skews young and male, on-site farmers’ market and upbeat posters — the company is considered a place apart. Amazon, though, offers no pretense that catering to employees is a priority. Compensation is considered competitive — successful midlevel managers can collect the equivalent of an extra salary from grants of a stock that has increased more than tenfold since 2008. As the company has grown, Mr.
Bezos has become more committed to his original ideas, viewing them in almost moral terms, those who have worked closely with him say. Of all of his management notions, perhaps the most distinctive is his belief that harmony is often overvalued in the workplace — that it can stifle honest critique and encourage polite praise for flawed ideas. Tony Galbato, vice president for human resources, in an email statement. At its best, some employees said, Amazon can feel like the Bezos vision come to life, a place willing to embrace risk and strengthen ideas by stress test. I was so addicted to wanting to be successful there.