Work Rules! Insights from inside Google that will transform how you live and lead
Can your workplace become as popular as Google’s?
Born in communist Romania under the dictator Nicolae Ceaucescu, the author Laszlo Bock found Google’s mission – to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible – too thrilling to resist. And he is not alone – Google is rated by Linked In as the most sought-after place in the world to work.
As Senior VP of People Operations, Laszlo offers a detailed manifesto of ideas from Google about how to attract, develop, retain and delight your staff. Not all are original, and not all are conventional. Google spends twice as much money on recruiting people than the average company – and puts less focus on training once they are hired. Because of their extensive hiring needs, the company invests significantly in an in-house team to reach out to candidates through the ‘Googler’ network and then uses a rigorously assessed and analytical recruitment process to appoint the best people.
In summarising his approach, Laszlo offers ten steps that he says will transform your team or workplace:
- Give your work meaning – help people find the connection to an idea or value that transcends the day to day and honestly reflects what you are doing – if you are a plumber you are keeping people’s homes clean and healthy to improve the quality of their lives
- Trust your people – ask employees what they would change if it was their company – you want everyone to feel they are the owners
- Hire only people who are better than you – never compromise on hiring quality. A bad hire is toxic – dragging down everyone’s performance. Hire by committee to avoid unconscious bias and instant judgements, set objective standards in advance, never compromise, and periodically check if your new hires are better than your old ones
You spend more time working than doing anything else in life. It’s not right that the experience of work, even at some of the best employers, should be so demotivating and dehumanizing” Laszlo Bock
- Don’t confuse development with managing performance – make developmental conversations safe and productive by having them all the time. Ask at every meeting with individuals in your team – “How can I help you be more successful?” Performance conversations about goals should be entirely separate and involve peers of the employee and the manager to ensure fairness
- Focus on the two tails – Find the best specialists – not just the best salesperson but the person who sells best to new accounts of a certain size – and then study why they are successful and get them to teach others. Have compassion for your worst performers and if you have put them in the wrong role, help them find another, but if that fails, remove them as quickly as you can
- Be frugal and generous – ask vendors to bring services like sandwiches in-house, and host interesting guest speakers. Save your resources for times in employee’s lives when generosity matters the most – like times of medical need or having children. Google also provides free meals, doctors and washing machines – an approach that can save employees considerable time and improve their health and productivity
- Pay unfairly – Your best people are worth far more than your average people – make sure they feel it, and explain clearly and honestly to everyone else what they can do to achieve the same. At the same time, be generous in public recognition and team achievements, or when important lessons have been learnt from failures
- Nudge – encourage people to save more of their income to help accumulate their own wealth. And if the internal walls of your building are getting in the way of team collaboration, knock them down
- Manage the rising expectations – let people know you are trying out new ideas – they will be more likely to extend the benefit of the doubt if things go awry
- Enjoy! And then go back to No. 1 and start again – building a great culture and environment requires constant learning and renewal. Experiment with ideas, tweak how it works, and try again
As Laszlo says, introducing a few beanbags and a lava lamp won’t make your culture more innovative – but a more fundamental shift towards being more open about where the company is heading would. That might help us all gain control of our own destiny.
** About the author Laszlo Bock is Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, responsible for attracting, developing and retaining more than 50,000 “Googlers” in over seventy offices worldwide. Bock’s earlier experience spans executive roles at the General Electric Company, management consulting at McKinsey & Company, start-ups, non-profits, and acting.
Since Bock joined Google in 2006 it has been named the ‘Best Company to Work For’ more than 30 times and received over 100 awards as an employer of choice. Bock has an MBA from Yale and in 2010 he was named “Human Resources Executive of the Year” by HR Executive Magazine.
** Reviews “[Laszlo Bock’s] most striking management tips have much more to do with hiring and classifying people than with empowering them” The Economist
“Google is an experiment in rethinking people management that appears to actually be working. By telling us how, this may be the most important HR book of the year.” CIPD
About Impact Executives Ltd Impact Executives is a leading interim management provider to organisations of every size in the UK and globally. Originally formed as a specialist practice within PA Consulting Group, over the past 25 years Impact Executives has helped over 2000 companies, including more than two-thirds of the FTSE 250 – find the very best executive interim management talent.
Clients choose to work in partnership with Impact Executives because of our proven ability to offer client’s immediate solutions to improve their organisation’s performance through identifying skills-gaps, business process reengineering (BPR), turnaround, restructure and growth.
With offices covering the UK, the Nordics, Europe, Asia Pacific and North America, Impact Executives is part of the global recruitment specialist Harvey Nash Group plc. Over the past 20 years we have given clients and interim managers the confidence that we have the resources, expertise and focus to deliver results – fast.
For further information on Impact Executives, please contact Steffany Young, Impact Executives, Tel: 0044 20 7314 2011 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author: Laszlo Bock