Investors Benefit from Zappos Democratic Work Environment

Zappos, the online shoe retailer famous for its quirky company culture and unconventional management practices, recently announced that it is being acquired by Amazon.com for $847 million.  Founded in 1999, it took Zappos less than a decade to achieve revenues of over $1 billion, and the company has been profitable since 2006. 

Tony Hsieh, Zappos’ CEO, credits his company’s meteoric rise in a highly competitive market to the company’s laser-like focus on providing excellent service and support. 

As many democratic and decentralized companies have realized, the key to offering fantastic support is to enable employees to rely on their instincts and to trust them to make their own decisions.  At Zappos, customer service call center reps are not required to read from scripts.  Instead, they are encouraged to use discretion in making their own decisions without seeking approval from their supervisors. 

Zappos has worked hard to blur the lines between managers and employees that are common in traditional organizational hierarchies.  The company’s goal is to develop a fun, playful work environment where coworkers and bosses feel more like friends.  Managers are required to spend time socializing with their employees.   

Inc.com provides a detailed look at ‘the Zappos way of managing’.

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