8 Management Lessons I Learned Working At Apple

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Photo: The Pug Father via Flickr

Apple is a company that spawns both rabid fans and haters.But there’s no denying that it’s been enormously successful, and it just keeps on winning.

Part of that success, as we’ve said before, comes from the fact that the company is really just a huge startup — with a corporate culture that is extremely engineer-focused, emphasises minimal bureaucracy, and likes taking care of its people.

Sachin Agarwal learned a lot about Apple’s management style during his days as an engineer. He worked at the company for 6 years, before leaving to start the simple blogging platform Posterous.

“I loved working there… [Choosing to leave] was a really hard decision,” he says.

But, when he left, he made sure to take a few important management lessons with him, which have helped make Posterous successful as well.

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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