This is a short discussion today, more of an observation that puts an exclamation point on contemporary management and leadership theory. I spent last weekend driving from Reno to San Diego area, then back to Reno along the west coast. It was a good trip, lots of time to think while the miles ticked by. When I got to the Santa Clara area on US 101, traffic got busy and scenery turned urban. While I was negotiating the clackity old RV over to the slow lane I looked to the right and saw a beautiful green park, soccer field, tennis court and an incredibly well presented white building. No shit, this was the Ebay/Paypal corporate office.
I have read plenty of articles and case studies, as I am sure you have too on the unique approach that progressive Silicon Valley companies are using to attract and retain top talent but I had not seen it in person. This campus, for the whole 30 seconds I zoomed by, stood out in the urban setting. Green, well kept, inviting for those entering the facility, punctuated in the center by a professional business building. The first thing in my mind was ‘wow’, I want to work there. Michael Hyatt wrote about ‘wow’ experiences and going above and beyond to make an impression, Ebay certainly did that with this facility.
Of course I can’t speak to the actual working culture of the place, but it seemed pretty clear at face value that the organization was catering to it’s employees, and perspective employees. This feeds right into contemporary leadership and management which is built on the premise that happy employees are engaged employees, and engaged employees will lead to customer satisfaction. Simply put, don’t skimp the employees and concentrate on serving the customer, you will fail. Instead recruit and build the right team of employees, treat them as your number top resource and customer service is the byproduct. This is at odds with the satirical but oh-so-true approach of beating your employees until morale improves. This drives employees to concentrate their efforts on retaining their jobs, rather than putting their effort into growing the value of their company and serving the customer.
A few miles down the road I was still astounded by the Ebay facility, and off to the right was another phenomenal cluster of buildings with a fountain out front, this was the Oracle HQ. While not on this trip, I have also visited the Facebook compound around the corner in Menlo Park and the Google campus is a fixture in the area. Google is well known for its employee-centric programs such as shuttling services, laundry and recreation programs. Some might balk and say these are corporation with more money than they know what to do with. I beg to differ, I believe their success is due to their employee investment, rather than investing in their employees because of their success. I can say with confidence that their executives are not worried about counting cars in their parking lot on Friday night. Their employees are engaged.
Heck, one drive through the area and I’m writing a blog and wondering how I can bring these concepts back to my organization to boost my team. What are your thoughts?