Nest Engineer skewers CEO Tony Fadell for terrible workplace culture.

Another day, another story of a Silicon Valley CEO getting it so wrong when it comes to building a workplace culture that nurtures innovation. Less than a year ago, we were digesting a similar diatribe from Amazon employees, a company not exactly known for being a ‘happy’ place to work. What makes today’s revelations so interesting is its origin point, from within Google, a supposed shrine to workplace bliss. How did Nest (and by proxy Google upper management) so epically fail its best and brightest employees?

1.) Disregard for Work-life Balance

Reports surfaced of Nest Engineers sleeping in office corners and marriages being destroyed as a result of an utter disrespect for employee’s personal well being. With so much empirical evidence out there there suggesting that working your employees to death is utterly counterproductive, why do companies such as Nest continue to do this? It’s because CEOs like Tony Fadell have an archaic view on what brings success and are failing to see the pain around them. Extra hours don’t equal getting more work done and this has been proven time and time again. Instead of soul crushing hours and bruising relationships, Nest should have put employee’s well being first and foremost to drive innovation.

2.) Failure to Integrate Teams

Nest has made various acquisitions over the past few years, including the purchases of Dropcam, Revolv and MyEnergy. Companies typically make these moves for strategic purposes, such as reaching a new market or gaining new technology. But in the 21st century, it’s all about intellectual capital, and that means you’re buying smart people. Rather than integrate these teams to unite them towards one common goal, Nest pitted teams against each other. CEO Tony Fadell notoriously said Dropcam’s engineers ‘were not as good as we hoped’ . These engineers didn’t lack talent as much as they lacked leadership that engaged them in the correct manner. Failure to engage your best and brightest not only kills productivity, it creates a toxic environment of distrust, like we see at Nest.

3.) Failing to Get Feedback Real Time and Be Transparent

Nest’s employees were all aware of how awful the workplace environment had become and the abysmal morale. But rather than address it head on, Nest permitted the situation to deteriorate to a breaking point. When your employees resort to an external forum like Reddit to address issues of workplace culture, it’s indicative there’s no meaningful way to provide this feedback internally. Not only does this cause reputational damage to the organization, it’s one more reason for your best employees to jump ship. Having a way for employees to provide feedback in real-time and have leadership acknowledgment, could have avoided this disastrous situation.

Unfortunately, this won’t be the last time we hear about a company with talented employees and potential derailed due to a CEO’s inability to listen to its employees. Because talent is increasingly mobile, it’s more important than ever to build a workplace that values a positive workplace culture as much as the bottom line.


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By | May 25th, 2016|Company Culture|

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