Last night, technology industry veteran Maynard Webb discussed basic business principles and the need for a more flexible workplace with eBay Inc. Chief Executive John Donahoe. The dialogue, which was held on PayPal’s campus in San Jose, Calif., began as discussion about Webb’s new book, “Rebooting Work,” but later segued into a deeper look at what large corporations can do to attract, keep, and inspire talented employees.
Webb, who also gave a presentation to eBay inc. employees earlier in the day, said he was inspired to write his book after starting to write blog posts about the nature of work while at LiveOps, a cloud-based call center. The book also let him address, in one tome, the many questions his acolytes had been asking him about how to run a successful tech company.
The issue is especially important nowadays, he said, especially given that over 50% of employees are unhappy in their current jobs. “That’s criminal,” he said. “I felt compelled to help.”
One important change businesses — especially old-school, paternalistic companies that expect employees to automatically step in line — can do is to encourage flexibility. Webb notes that while he grew up in the broadcast era of television, he — like much of America — now watches whatever he wants, whenever he wants. Given that individuals are so used to having choice in their entertainment options, they expect the same flexibility at work — and companies would be right to offer it.
The ultimate goal, Webb said, was for all employees to be the CEO of their own destinies — to be inspired and mentored at work, and in possession of the agency to take control of their careers and direct it as they saw fit.
Donahoe and Webb also spoke at length about employees knowing the difference between being entitled to certain benefits at work, versus feeling empowered to affect change. (Both are naturally in favor of the latter.) It’s not always the job of employers to teach its employees, said Donahoe. Rather, it was the employee’s responsibility to learn from his or her manager and business environment and take personal responsibility, he said. But managers were responsible for vocally encouraging their staffs and literally telling them their bosses believed in them.
Only then, they said, would the world’s “good” companies eventually evolve into “great” companies.