Each company’s culture is entirely unique. And at Apple, the internal culture has lent itself to one of the most successful companies of the 21st century. Here are 10 important things that HR managers can learn from Apple’s company culture:
- Better is… Better
One thing that’s certain about Apple’s company culture is that if there’s a way to make a product better, then that method should absolutely be pursued. Mediocrity is never acceptable; the best thing that employees can do is find a way to make an existing product more valuable than it already is.
- Perks are Modest, but Present
Unlike other innovative giants, like Google, the perks afforded to Apple employees are modest. For example, employees must pay for their own food and beverage within the cafeteria, the gym isn’t free, and employees only get one 25 percent discount on computer systems. When Jobs was asked about the lack of freebies, he replied that it was his job to make his employees’ stocks go up so that they could “afford these things.”
- Be the Best
To Apple, being good—or even being better than many main competitors—isn’t enough; instead, the company culture seeks to be the best. In fact, Tim Cook, Apple’s Chief Executive, was quoted as saying that Apple is concerned with making “the best products in the world.”
- Flip-flopping May be Okay
Apple has also embraced the idea that if flip-flopping on an idea or belief means making money or pleasing the customer, then doing so may be okay. For example, Apple once scoffed at phones with a display larger than four inches, only to later introduce a 5.5-inch screen. Cook has said that Apple is “okay with that,” and believes it’s good that the company has the courage to admit it.
- A Contribution Matters
If you’re not committed to making a valuable contribution to the world, then working at Apple probably isn’t for you. When Apple has an idea for a new product, one of the determining factors for pursuing it is whether or not it will make a significant contribution to society.
- Some Things are Best Kept Secret
It’s no secret: keeping information hush-hush is highly valued at Apple. It’s not uncommon for employees to be pulled for a ‘top secret’ project that they’re not allowed to discuss with anyone inside or outside of the office, including spouses. In fact, even team leaders and HR managers are rarely kept in the loop.
- Teams are Kept Small
Teams are kept small at Apple, and are given a high level of independence to work. This allows for teams to dream—and create—big without major limitations. It also provides for the autonomy necessary to replicate small start-ups.
- Separate Departments Should Remain Separate
Unlike many other companies where departments and people within them collaborate and co-mingle, Apple encourages separation. This helps to prevent information leaks.
- It’s About Work, Not Politics
Because people are usually working independently of one another, and departments rarely work together, Apple’s employees have said that there’s not a lot of internal politics. Adam Lashinsky, who has spent hours interviewing Apple’s employees, said, “There’s not a lot of politics at Apple because you don’t have any information with which to play politics.”
- Be Responsible for Your Task
While there are certainly teams of people who work together, there’s also a lot of pressure to succeed solo. In fact, Apple will assign tasks to the DRI – Directly Responsible Individual. If a name is written next to a task, it means that that person, not two people, not the person’s manager, is responsible for completing the task.
Apple’s company culture is incredibly unique. And while some parts of the culture have been critiqued, Apple continues to retain innovative workers and produce high-quality products.
Want to read more? Check out my post on Google's company culture.