Uber seeks to fix problematic culture with new "cultural norms"

This is the company's first major HR policy change since a new Chief HR Officer and CEO were appointed a few months ago.

Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on Tuesday (November 7) unveiled a new set of company principles as part of an ongoing effort to fix a problematic culture that has received much negative press in the past year.

Admitting that its previous approach is no longer effective today, Khosrowshahi says the transportation disruptor’s culture also “needs to evolve”.

“Rather than ditching everything, I’m focused on preserving what works while quickly changing what doesn’t,” he adds.

Incorporating the views of over 1,200 employees, the new set of eight values, which Uber is calling “cultural norms”, will continually evolve as the company changes.

One existing practice which Uber is desperate to eliminate is its “toe-stepping” policy. Khosrowshahi says the policy was initially meant as a way of encouraging employees to share ideas regardless of positions, but that “too often it was used as an excuse for being an asshole”.

While these norms are not expected to change the culture overnight, the most crucial purpose, as Khosrowshahi identifies in his memo, is that they will hold each and every employee accountable – something Uber has particularly struggled with.

Here are the eight cultural norms, in Khosrowshahi’s own words.

Build globally, live locally. We harness the power and scale of our global operations to deeply connect with the cities, communities, drivers and riders that we serve, every day.”

Customer-obsessed. “We work tirelessly to earn our customers’ trust and business by solving their problems, maximising their earnings or lowering their costs. We surprise and delight them. We make short-term sacrifices for a lifetime of loyalty.”

Celebrate differences. “We stand apart from the average. We ensure people of diverse backgrounds feel welcome. We encourage different opinions and approaches to be heard, and then we come together and build.”

Do the right thing. “Period.”

Act like owners. “We seek out problems and we solve them. We help each other and those who matter to us. We have a bias for action and accountability. We finish what we start and we build Uber to last. And when we make mistakes, we’ll own up to them.”

Persevere. We believe in the power of grit. We don’t seek the easy path. We look for the toughest challenges and we push. Our collective resilience is our secret weapon.”

Value ideas over hierarchy. “We believe that the best ideas can come from anywhere, both inside and outside our company. Our job is to seek out those ideas, to shape and improve them through candid debate, and to take them from concept to action.”

Make big bold bets. “Sometimes we fail, but failure makes us smarter. We get back up, we make the next bet, and we go!”

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