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亚马逊是“天使与魔鬼”的化身

2015-08-21    来源:fortune    【      美国外教 在线口语培训

亚马逊:压榨员工的邪恶王国,还是改造世界的良心企业?

《纽约时报》关于亚马逊公司内部文化的报道引发轩然大波,真相究竟如何?公平地讲,亚马逊同时符合“天使与魔鬼”的两面。但根植于该公司企业文化深处的,是一种要做大事的渴望——即便这在某种程度上意味着要付出个人牺牲。

If you’ve been following the technology press over the past few days, you will have seen some of the fallout from a New York Times piece on the workplace culture at Amazon AMZN 0.70% , which portrayed the company as an inhuman meritocracy, where people are thrown under the wheels of commerce if they show even the slightest weakness. In an internal memo he sent out on the weekend, Jeff Bezos said that he didn’t recognize the “soulless, dystopian workplace” described in the newspaper’s story.
最近几天,如果你一直在关注科技新闻,你肯定注意到了《纽约时报》一篇描述亚马逊公司文化的报道所引发的轩然大波。在这篇报道中,亚马逊是一家实行不人道的精英管理的公司,员工哪怕显露出一点点弱点,都会遭到商业车轮的残酷碾压。杰夫·贝佐斯在上周末发出的一份备忘录中回应称,他根本不认为此文描述的那个“没有灵魂,反乌托邦的工作场所”是自己的公司。

Some Amazon employees have also written about their experiences at the company, and many have taken issue with the description of its culture. Head of infrastructure Nick Ciubotariu wrote a piece at Medium in which he said the NYT story was “blatantly incorrect,” and veteran software engineer Tim Bray also wrote a blog post saying his experience at Amazon was nothing like what the paper described.
一些亚马逊员工也撰文谈到了自己的工作经历,很多人都谈到了公司文化的问题。亚马逊基础设施总监尼克·丘博塔留在媒体上撰文称,《纽约时报》的报道“错得离谱”。软件工程师蒂姆·博雷也撰写了一篇博客,称他在亚马逊工作期间的感受与该报道截然不同。

At the same time, however, a number of former Amazon staffers have said certain parts of the New York Times story rang true, including the pressure to work long hours, the focus on performance above all else, and in some cases a culture of back-stabbing fueled by the company’s anonymous Anytime Feedback Tool.
不过与此同时,也有不少前亚马逊员工表示,这篇报道的部分内容还是比较真实的,包括被迫长时间工作,把绩效看得重于一切,以及一些人利用公司的“随时反馈工具”向同事背后捅刀子等等。

So which is the real Amazon? The one that is cruel and inhuman, or the one that Jeff Bezos says involves “having fun with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future?”
那么,真实的亚马逊究竟是什么样的?是像《纽约时报》说的那样惨无人道,还是如贝佐斯所言,“与一群天才小伙伴愉快地玩耍,顺便创造未来?”

I’ve never worked at Amazon, but I know a number of people who have—both at lower levels and in more senior positions—and I would be willing to bet that the company fits both of these profiles at the same time. For some, it is probably a cruel place where they feel unwelcome, and their performance is judged more harshly than they would like, but for others I expect it is a challenging environment that makes them do things they might not have even thought they were capable of.
我从来没有在亚马逊工作过,不过我倒是认识不少曾在亚马逊工作过的人,其中既有职务较低的,也有级别较高的。我敢说,亚马逊同时符合“天使与魔鬼”的两面。对于有些人来说,亚马逊可能是个冷酷无情的地方,让他们感到自己不受欢迎,公司对工作绩效评价之严格,也超出他们的预期。但另一些人或许觉得这是一个具有挑战性的环境,能促使他们做到连自己也没想过自己能够做到的事情。

That may not make for a great story, but I think it’s probably a lot closer to reality. I have no doubt that there are people at Amazon who mis-use the internal feedback tool, or drive their employees too hard, or are unsympathetic when it comes to personal issues and needs. Every company has those people. But is this hard-wired into Amazon culture? I doubt it.
这种情形或许无法促成一个好故事,但我认为它可能更接近事实真相。毫无疑问,在亚马逊,有人滥用内部反馈工具给别人背后捅刀子,也肯定有让员工拼命苦干的现象,对员工的个人问题和需求不够关心。这不奇怪,每个公司都有这种人。但这种现象是否深植于亚马逊的企业文化之中?我表示怀疑。

What I think is hard-wired into the company’s culture, based on conversations with former Amazon employees, is a desire to do great work—even if that requires some level of personal sacrifice — and a feeling that the company is doing something worthwhile, perhaps even revolutionary. You can dismiss this idea if you want, but it seems to be true.
根据与一些前亚马逊员工的交流,我认为根植于该公司企业文化深处的,是一种要做大事的渴望——即便这在某种程度上意味着要付出个人牺牲——以及一种感受,即公司正在做一些很有价值,甚至可能具有革命性的事情。当然你可以不信这一套,但这种渴望的确是存在的。

This is the same general principle that applies to many people who work for other technology companies you’ve probably heard of, including Apple AAPL 1.03% , Google GOOG 0.44% , Facebook FB -0.49% and (in its day) Microsoft MSFT 0.68% . It’s why these companies are often described as being cult-like: Because many who work there believe that they aren’t just doing a job, they are working on something that is larger than themselves, something worthwhile, something that requires an extra level of commitment.
这个原则大体上也适用于很多为其他科技公司工作的人,比如苹果、谷歌、Facebook和微软的许多员工。这就是为什么人们常说这些公司有着“宗教似的”狂热。因为很多在这些公司的人相信,他们所做的不仅是一份工作,而是在做一些意义更重大的事,一些值得做的事,一些需要多投入一份奉献精神的事。

To take just one example, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs’ treatment of his staff makes anything that Amazon has done (or likely ever will do) seem like a day at the beach. He routinely told employees that they “should hate each other” for doing poor work, and when fellow executives like Jony Ive questioned his harshness he said sugar-coating it wouldn’t help anyone—including the employees who were under-performing.
仅举一例:相比于苹果联合创始人史蒂夫·乔布斯对待员工的严厉程度,亚马逊员工受到的待遇简直就是春风拂面。乔布斯经常告诉员工,如果谁工作干得不好,大家就应该“憎恨他”。当乔尼·艾维等高管质疑他的苛刻时,他说,粉饰太平不会帮助任何人——包括那些表现不佳的员工。

Former Apple employee Ben Thompson, who now runs a subscription-based technology analysis service called Stratechery, recalls in his most recent update how he was criticized harshly by a superior and wound up crying at his desk. But after he stopped feeling sorry for himself, he turned the project he was criticized for into something much better that is still in use today: “I hunkered down, started from the beginning, and at some point over the next few days or weeks had a real conceptual breakthrough,” he says. “And I knew it was some of my best work ever.”
前苹果公司员工本·汤普森现在经营着一家订阅式科技分析服务Stratechery。他近日回忆称,在苹果工作期间他曾经遭到上级严厉批评,最终情绪崩溃,趴在办公桌上大哭起来。但心情平复后,他又回头去做那个让他受到批评的项目,对其进行了显著的改进,该产品直至今日仍在使用。他回忆道:“我沉下心来,重头开始,在接下来几天还是几周的时候,竟然真的实现了概念上的突破。我知道它是我做出的最佳成就之一。”

I think part of the reason that Amazon gets singled out is that it is seen as just a retailer, not a company like Apple that is making magical products to improve people’s lives or fill them with joy. This tone runs throughout the New York Times piece, which talks about how employees are subjected to inhuman treatment “with words like ‘mission’ used to describe lightning-quick delivery of Cocoa Krispies or selfie sticks.” The implication is that selling things somehow isn’t a worthwhile goal.
我认为,亚马逊之所以没被归入这类科技公司里,是因为人们总是把它看作一家零售商,而不是苹果那种能够生产神奇的产品来改变人们的生活,给人们带来快乐的公司。《纽约时报》的报道基本也是持这个调调,在描述员工受到不人道的待遇时,该报道称:“亚马逊使用像‘使命’这样的字眼,来描述可可脆饼或自拍杆的快递业务”,意思就是,卖点杂货怎么也难称得上是“使命”。

I don’t personally think that shipping Frozen dolls to customers a few seconds faster is something I want to devote my life to, but I believe that Jeff Bezos and his senior staff see what they are doing as revolutionary to some extent. I think they see Amazon as being a completely different type of retailer—a much more efficient, and data-driven, and customer-focused one—and they are as fanatical about that as Steve Jobs was about iPhone icons and color schemes.
我个人也并不觉得把《冰雪奇缘》娃娃早几秒钟送到顾客手里,是一件值得为之奋斗终生的事情,但我认为,在杰夫·贝佐斯和亚马逊其他高管看来,他们所做的事具有革命性意义。他们将亚马逊看成一种完全不同的零售商,一家更加高效、更关注顾客的数据型零售商。他们对亚马逊事业的狂热,和乔布斯对iPhone图标和配色方案的狂热并无二致。

Whenever you have a company that is trying to not only grow rapidly and disrupt existing industries, but to reinvent how something works on such a fundamental level, you are going to have fanatical behavior. The kind of thing that the New York Times describes would not surprise anyone who has worked on Wall Street, or in any large company involved in a hyper-competitive industry.
不管什么时候,如果你的公司不仅想要快速增长,做现有行业的搅局者,同时还想从根本上重新创造某种事物,那么你就必须得有狂热的行为。《纽约时报》描述的那些内容不会让任何一个曾在华尔街工作过的人感到惊讶,也不会让任何一个曾在某个竞争高度激烈的行业里工作过的人感到惊讶。

That’s not meant to justify any of the behavior that is detailed in the NYT story, whether it’s poor treatment of pregnant or cancer-stricken employees, or any of the other criticisms of Amazon’s practices involving warehouse workers and so on. I just think the story of Amazon’s culture is a lot more complex than the “Amazon is an evil empire” narrative that the Times chose to give us.
这不是在为《纽约时报》中报道的任何行为做辩解。(如《纽约时报》称亚马逊未对怀孕和患癌的员工给予应有待遇,对亚马逊对待仓库工人的一些做法也给予了批评。)我只是认为,有关亚马逊的企业文化的故事,要比《纽约时报》的那种“亚马逊是邪恶王国”的叙事笔法复杂得多。

Vocabulary:

meritocracy n. 英才教育(制度);精英管理的社会

memo n. 备忘录

dystopian adj. 反面假想国的;反面乌托邦的

blatantly adv. 公然地;喧闹地;看穿了地

anonymous adj. 匿名的,无名的;无个性特征的

implication n. 含义;暗示;牵连

fanatical adj. 狂热的

warehouse n. 仓库;货栈;大商店



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