Ever since the New York Times published an editorial article last year about what working for Amazon was like, I've had people asking me about it whenever they hear that I work for Amazon.
My response is generally the same, that I have personally never seen the sort of toxic management styles and hostile work environments described in the article, and generally have a lot of confidence from having participated in the hiring bar raiser program as well as annual review meetings, that that sort of behavior is seldom rewarded or even tolerated.
There are going to be crappy teams and bad bosses anywhere. That's the reality of life. And yes, Amazon is a highly driven work environment where results are expected (and rewarded, as a matter of fact). But the idea that it's routine to see people crying at their desk is a bit of a joke.
I actually use that as a joke sometimes. If a table or desk isn't precisely level, I'll suppose aloud that it's so the tears can roll off rather than pooling on the top.
Beyond that, most of the things in the article are vast distortions of the reality. Does Amazon perform performance analysis to find and reward its top performers? Absolutely. All top tech companies do this. Does Amazon encourage backstabbing using the anonymous feedback tool? Absolutely not. For one thing, the tool is not anonymous. The manager to whom the feedback is sent knows exactly who sent it, and it is up to them to decide whether or not to share the feedback (and its source) with the person it is concerning.
But the items in this article, and their refutation, is not really why I like working for Amazon. I had worked there for over 11 years before the article came out, and now I have been here for over 12 years. It is the company's relentless customer focus that makes it a satisfying place to work and one that I can be proud of.
Sometimes, it's something we do. For example, taking an existing benefit like Prime and making it better (by adding video streaming, or adding free saturday and sunday delivery, etc).
Sometimes, it's apparent by how we contrast against things that other companies do. Sony recently announced they are increasing their PSN membership fee from $40 to $50 with no additional benefit to the end user. T-Mobile announced they are ending some of their cheaper data plans and thus forcing people to subscribe to the more expensive data plans. Verizon is lowering the monthly data caps on its broadband internet plans and increasing the fees for over-limit usage.
This, I think, exemplifies why Amazon is unique in living up to its customer focus mission. Compared to other companies, who are constantly striving to make more money from the same product offerings, Amazon is looking instead to give customers more benefits. If we can do this at no additional expense to ourselves, so much the better, but we don't let that limit our thinking.