Cultural lessons from Amazon

A client of mine has been working with Amazon, and shared some very interesting things about the company culture.  It is definitively American.  People are told when they are taken on that their work will be measured and assessed, and the if they fall in the top 10% then they will be promoted.  Conversely, if they are in the bottom 10% they will be fired.  If they are fired they are eligible to try again another time.  There is no ceiling on those who rise through the ranks.  You may feel this is a fairly brutal system, but the clarity of the message and the precision of the measuring means that it tends to be well accepted.  It isn’t personal, it is just the system and applies to everyone. 

If I had the power to make this kind of decision, and the systems to back them up, I don’t know if I’d do this, but the there are a number of valuable lessons on culture:-

  1. Be clear
  2. Be predictable
  3. Be consistent
  4. Be universal (in other words, treat everyone the same)

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