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Organizational Behavior: Amazon Inc.


Amazon is an e-commerce company that started as an online book store in 1994. Compared to how the company started, lots of changes have taken place over the years. The organization started with just a garage outlet, and now it has branches in seve...Read More


~Posted on Feb 2019

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Amazon is an e-commerce company that started as a...

Amazon is an e-commerce company that started as an online book store in 1994. Compared to how the company started, lots of changes have taken place over the years. The organization started with just a garage outlet, and now it has branches in several other countries including U.K. Amazon has also been able to give employment to a huge population. It is also responsible for putting other outlets out of work as they have been able to develop products and application that ease purchase for the clients (Peterson, 2017). Amazon continues to innovate new ways of bettering their products allowing it to be on top of their competitors. In this paper, I look deeper into Amazon Corporation to try and understand the organizational structure and what makes the enterprise stay ahead of the competition.

What are some of the perceived personality traits associated with the CEO of Amazon corporation?

The chief executive officer of the Amazon company also its founder is Jeff Bezos, who also holds the third position as one of the wealthiest people in the world as of 2017. The position he holds, therefore, is attributed by his traits and also his leadership qualities which have made him climb the ladder of the wealthiest is just two decades. Bezos has several qualities that have helped him in the entrepreneurial role, leadership role as well as of his personal life.

Frugality is one of the many qualities he possesses. Bezos believes in accomplishing a lot with less. One can see this quality manifest itself where he introduced the rule of two pizzas. The analogy says that if a team is big such that two boxes of pizza are not enough, then the group is too big and there are resources not in use. He, therefore, prefers teams of between five and seven people keeping them on toes when it comes to innovation. The idea could be understood as constraint resulting to resourcefulness, invention, and sufficiency at a low cost. It also emphasizes on no value in hiring more people or adding extra cost rather than allowing for the few in the organization to fully exploit their potential (Ansell, 2016).

Flexibility and stubbornness is a trait that almost every leader of Jeff Bezos standard has. In his own words, Bezos said, “We are stubborn on vision. We are flexible on details.” (Bulygo, 2017). The statement means that the organization sticks to the idea. However, the process itself might change, and the organization must be flexible enough to adapt to the changes. The whole process is however determined by the leader since the organization depends entirely on his/her guidance. For this case, therefore, Jeff Bezos is a flexible leader but stubborn when it comes to an idea. It must be achieved by whatever means necessary. Bezos is open to tactical changes, flexible on details, but stubborn when it comes to vision. He appreciates new ideas and is open to exploring them as the company is built on innovation and exploration of ideas.

Bezos also has a characteristic of adjustment. The attribute allows one to stay positive, calm, emotionally stable, self-controlled and work well under pressure. Building the company from scratch required a lot of hard work, dedication and most of all working under a lot of pressure (Kowalczyk, 2016). Bezos has demonstrated this through the company that has touched almost every life in the world.

What are the motivational activities conducted by the organization?

In any organization, it is vital to give reasons to the employees for giving their best. As an organization that ships 35 items in just a second (Kowalczyk, 2016), lots of efficiencies is needed from the employees and without the proper motivation, the employees may not deliver.

One of the ways the organization has been able to motivate its employees is by decentralizing significant decision making mandates. The process of decentralization distributes the power of making vital decisions of the company to every employee of the enterprise. The process, therefore, allows all the staff to contribute to better the products and services of the business and at the same time making the employees motivated. Motivation comes in when an employee feels that his all her opinion is valued in making decisions hence would want even to contribute more as they feel that they are part of the company and not just taking orders from above.

The other way is allowing the employees to have stocks in the company. In the early 2000s, 10% of the business was owned by the employees. Other than allowing the employees to feel valued when making decisions, owning a part of the company allows people to be proud of the enterprise where the pride motivates the workers even more.

The organization has offered its employees certain amount of money for them to quit. The proposal seems unconventional considering that the whole point of motivation is to keep the employees. However, this method allows the organization to retain employees who are driven to innovate and work under pressure while letting go employees who are more productive in other places. The company sends the offer to the employees through their work emails. The proposal is not meant to let the employees go but to help them resolve the question of whether they are good as they are or they would be better off pursuing other ventures. It allows the employees in the organization to stay not because of a force of circumstances but because they believe they are better working with Amazon. The evaluation also helps the workers to stay at their own will hence contributing to the goals of the organization whole heartedly ("Jeff Bezos motivates Amazon employees by offering cash to quit," 2014).

Is the company highly rated by employees as a great place to work? Show the criteria for the rating

In an article that was published in New York Times on the 15th of August 2015, over 100 workers and former workers of Amazon were interviewed. Most of the employees termed the organization as a harsh one that pushes them to their limits forcing them to exploit their potential as much as they could have never imagined. Some of the employees responded as to have thrived in the environment because they were pushed beyond their imagination. The interview was also conducted on a few employees who were allowed by the organization to be interviewed. It was also carried out on former employees of Amazon who had very different views on the company. An example of them was John Rossman who was an executive at Amazon. Rossman said that lots of people who work in Amazon work in tension and it was the greatest place he hated to work (Kantor & Streitfeld, 2015).

According to the article, people are pressurized to work on their toes causing them to focus on relentless combativeness, competition, and criticism as a significant aspect of the success of the company. Very few employees get to stay in the organization due to the pressure that comes with it. Some members have been fired due to personal complications like sickness which the enterprise has termed as a liability to the organization due to reduced productivity. Amazon came under fire as it was reported that workers in the warehouse were forced to work under high temperatures as the ambulance stood by the warehouse in case an employee felt sick and needed immediate medical attention. Employees are not allowed to talk to reports according to the confidential papers they sign when they get employed. The few that were allowed to speak only talked about the positive attributes of working in the harsh organizational culture rating it as a great place to work and push yourself beyond the limits (Ansell, 2016). However, to those who are former employees, the consider the organization as being the worst to have ever worked.

What kind of leadership theories best describe the organization’s leaders?

Transactional leadership. A transactional leader is never interested in the opinion of those around him because he/she is most certain that he/she is right. Amazon, as seen earlier, is run by Jeff Bezos who best on the research is a transactional leader. The assumption is based on the fact that employees follow what he wasn’t and not what they wish to do. The transactional leaders are effective in achieving the company’s objectives although the process may be termed as micromanagement or authoritarian leadership style (Yarow, 2011).

Transformational leadership. Transformational leaders major on workers’ ability rather than their characteristics. The process allows the leaders to tap on the motives and ideals of the followers allowing for innovation and growth of the organization. Transformational leaders are known to come up with long term goals and which penetrate to be valued by individual workers allowing for delivery of extraordinary results. The transformational leadership is one at play in Amazon. The administration allows people to be innovative despite their background hence enabling the organization always to be ahead of the competition.

What Organizational structure best describes the organization?

Amazon is a unique company as it may not be compared to others when it comes to the structure. Typical companies have a chain of command, and there is the hierarchy one is supposed to follow when you want to communicate something. They have the executive seats in the organization, but each person has to make a contributive effort towards the development of the organization and development of customer oriented products.

The uniqueness of the organizational structure comes about due to the goals of the company which one of them is to create an open environment for experimentation of ideas. The organization fosters the idea that one must be willing to be misunderstood for long periods of time in which they are experimenting. The organization believes that it is through the experiments that significant innovations are seen.

Amazon has an executive committee which decides on the projects to be undertaken. After they have agreed on a project, it is assigned to a team of between five and seven people. The “Two-Pizza rule determines the number of individuals in a team.” The rule was introduced by Jeff Bezos where, if two boxes of pizza cannot be enough for the team, then it is too big. The organization is made up of several groups which work independently each on their project. It would not be a shock to find that one team in the organization does not have an idea of what the other team is doing. The teams are allowed to use whatever technology is needed to come up with an innovation that will not only impact positively on the organization but also for the customers (Yarow, 2011).

The organization is customer oriented therefore all the projects are meant to be innovative in a way that they will impact to improve the customer services as well as being competitive. The process motivates the employees as it shows them that the executive trust them enough and believes in their capabilities and as a result, they put their best in the project.

Does the organization support diversity? How?

Amazon prides its self as an organization in promoting diversity. The company has achieved this through the involvement of men, women, and people with disabilities in their work force. The diverse workforce is meant to help in improvement of products based on sexual orientation, age, race, culture, education as well as life experience. All these are intended to create products that meet the needs of the customer as the organization is customer oriented.

Globally, the organization has been able to employ 61% and 39% of men and women in their workforce respectively. The organization has also tried to promote gender balance where 75% of the management positions are held by men while women occupy the 25%. On the racial aspect, 48% of the workers are White, 21% Black, 13% Asians, 13% Hispanic and other races occupy 5%. In the management positions the racial diversity is 66% White, 5% Black, 5% Hispanic and other racial categories hold 3% of the post. The data is according to the records in 2016 (“Amazon.com,” 2017).

What is the externally Perceived Organization Culture?

While Amazon has achieved worldwide recognition for being a giant e-commerce company, little is to be desired by the public about their organizational culture. Arguably, Amazon uses the Likert System 4 Management Approach Model.  Given the strict regulations and policies set for Amazon employees, the organization can further be classified in between the benevolent-authoritative system and the exploitative-authoritative system on the Likert System Scale.

According to a survey conducted by Payscale on high-tech companies, Amazon was reported to be among the most stressful high-tech places to work. The Technology Company Salary and Job Satisfaction Report ranked other eight high tech big companies including Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and Apple among others. The companies were surveyed on matters of demographics, workplace flexibility, and compensation. The survey indicated that Amazon and Facebook employees were the most frustrated of the nine tech companies. Also, Amazon ranked as the least flexible work environment of them all. The organization has the second least vacation time for their employees is a median of 2.2 weeks of vacation annually (Ansell, 2016).

Both past and present Amazonians have different stories to tell, most of which are negative. Most Amazonians do not stay long at the organization. Only few who are very successful survive and the rest are fired promptly or driven to quit. The company human resources refer to this as “purposeful Darwinism.” The Amazon organization has a unique, barbarous corporate culture whereby employees are allowed to engage in harsh criticism of decisions made during meetings.  The organization doesn’t motivate staff by incentives but instead uses fear as a motivational factor. The organization ranks its employees, and at the end of each year, those at the bottom are fired (Rosin, 2015).

Amazon mainly focuses on their clients thus forgetting their employees. The organization has little concern for employee safety and health, unachievable goals set for workers, restrictive worker policies, little upward communication, and no direct rewards to use as motivation other than salary and fear. Amazon, therefore, forces fast delivery service and innovation at the cost of its workers who survive through strict policies and constant fear (Ansell, 2016).

What are Amazon’s known Human Resource Policies and Practices?

Amazon is known to have strict policies, rules, and regulations that almost makes it impossible for most employees (both white collar and blue collar) to cope up. The organization has numerous policies to restrict their employees from doing various things. For instance, workers at the warehouse floor are not allowed to use any goods or products that were sold from Amazon. These workers cannot use commodities such as lipsticks and cosmetics. The organization also has policies on foods allowed within their premises. Furthermore, employees are not allowed to chew gum or have any other drink other than water while at work (Ansell, 2016).

Apart from stringent work policies, the organization rarely tolerates sickness. In fact, some past employees claim they got fired for being ill despite Amazon claiming they did not disclose prior illness before they were outsourced (Yarow, 2011).

 

Has Amazon undergone any change over the years? Were the changes positive or negative?

When Amazon opened its doors, its whole purpose was to ship books, but over the years they have been able to evolve. Today they ship all products ranging from technological to foods and clothing. What’s more is that their shipping timeline has reduced to same day to 3days for international shipment (Webley, 2010). The process is therefore efficient hence positive to the organization while promoting its reputation and positive to the customer as one gets the product promptly.

 

 





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