8 Management Lessons I Learned Working Under Steve Jobs


Photo: Sachin’s Posterous

The brilliance of Apple is that it’s really just a huge startup. It’s engineer-focused with minimal bureaucracy, and respects its employees. Sustaining this culture through decades of growth is no easy task.With the news of Steve Jobs’ resignation, Tim Cook has some incredibly huge shoes to fill.

Last year we spoke with a former Apple employee and engineer, Sachin Agarwal, who spent 6 years with the company before leaving to start Posterous. Agarwal says Steve Jobs was an epic leader, and told us what we can all learn from Apple’s startup culture.

A tech company should be run by engineers, not managers

Agarwal tells us that Apple is completely run by its engineers. 'They don't have a lot of product management,' he says. 'Most of the project teams are really small, and they're all driven by the engineers.'

On top of that, Agarwal says that most managers are all engineers as well, 'not product people or MBAs.' That means that the people overseeing projects understand the technology, what's necessary for a project, and can really relate to their team.

Build a culture of respect between managers and employees

Give employees the freedom to own and improve the products

At Apple, if an employee was using a product and found an issue that bothered them, they had the freedom to go in and fix it without having to deal with layers of bureaucracy to get approval.

All projects are driven by long-term goals, Agarwal says, but the best stuff comes from the engineers personally.

Challenge your employees to grow

Management would really challenge Agarwal by giving him harder tasks that were a little beyond his capabilities. 'But I learned,' he says.

And on the management side, he was getting to manage projects within six months of starting employment.

Apple is really good at developing their employees, and giving them the skills they need to rise up within the company, he says.

Deadlines are crucial

Hire people who are insanely passionate about your product

It's important to emphasise work/life balance

You should maintain that startup culture, even when you're a big company

As we've said before, Apple keeps winning because it's a giant startup.

From its lack of bureaucracy within projects, to its engineer-focused culture, to its emphasis on passionate and loyal employees, the huge company has maintained the corporate culture of its startup days.

And that culture is a huge part of what makes it so successful--and, not surprisingly, a good place to work.

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