5 Unusual Methods of Control in Google (and Why They Work)

2017-08-04

Google, with its expert personnel policy, based on real data, has ranked first in the list of the best workplaces for the eighth time in 11 years. Former HR Manager of the company Laszlo Bock in books and interviews revealed the secrets of managing Google: how much freedom to give employees, is it worth paying attention to diplomas, and how to articulate the mission of the company?

Consistency is better than total control

Managers that choose favorites, change strategic direction, and have a vague idea of goals are a problem for the company. Google found that fairness and consistency of leaders increase employee loyalty. They feel confident and relaxed.

If the Manager interferes with every process, the staff do not understand what they can and cannot do; this limits creativity and leads to frustration.

The ethical mission is better than the business one

Google's mission is the foundation of its corporate culture: "to organize all the information in the world and make it universally accessible and useful." Note that there is not a word about profit, the market, shareholders or users.

According to Laszlo Bock, "this mission gives the work meaning because it is more about ethics than business goals."

It attracts talented young employees who want to not just satisfy their ambitions, but also to draw inspiration from their work and change the world for the better.

Missions of companies

Google is not the only company with an ethical mission. Here are a few other examples:

Facebook: Give the people the opportunity to build a community and work together to bring the world closer together.

Microsoft: Give each person and every organization on the planet the opportunity to achieve more.

Nike: Give inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world.

*If you have a body you are an athlete.

Coca-Cola: Refresh the world... Give moments of optimism and happiness... To create value and make a difference.

IKEA: Create a better everyday life for many people.

Ford: Make our cars better, our employees happier, and our planet a better place for life.

Toyota: Leading the way to future mobility, expanding opportunities for safe and reliable transportation worldwide. 

AlibabaGroup: Make it easy to do business everywhere.

Twitter: Give everyone the opportunity to create and share ideas and information instantly and infinitely.

Everything should be transparent

Transparency is a second important element of the corporate culture of Google. Engineer gets access to all code of Google on the first day of work. Employees have access to prototype products, launch plans, weekly reports, project status, quarterly targets of their colleagues and team. Everyone can see what everyone else is working on.

This universal trust helps to create a healthy atmosphere in the team and minimizes competition and intrigue.

Traditional companies with a hierarchical structure are used to concealing information. Bock gives an argument in favor of open culture: "If you say (as most do): "People are our most valuable asset" you have to trust them. Otherwise, you are lying to them and yourself."

Employees need the opportunity to influence the work of the company

Another important concept in Google is “voice”. It is the ability of each employee to influence important decisions: every voice counts. In most companies, that prospect is horrifying. However, much of what forms the basis of HR policy in Google has been offered by the staff.

In 2009 some "Googlers" complained that because of the explosive growth of the company it became more difficult to finish the tasks at hand. Higher management acknowledged their opinion. According to Bock, CFO of Google decided to hand the power over to employees, running the program "Bureaucracy Fighters". Employees themselves had to find and eliminate work interferences. It caused uplift and motivated employees to self-organization.

The grades and test scores are irrelevant when hiring

A few years ago, Bock said in an interview with The New York Times that the grades and test scores are useless as a criterion for employment unless you are dealing with a very inexperienced candidate: "In two or three years of working for Google it turns out that your level has nothing to do with your grades, because the skills required in college are very different from those needed on the job. In essence, you become a different person. You learn and develop and you start looking at things differently." It is not surprising that in some departments of Google up to 14 percent of employees never went to college.

Complaints

Not everyone at Google believes that the company is a dream employer. On the website Quora current and former "Googlers" are complaining about the undervaluation, the lack of human relations within the company, and the inability to influence the processes in it. Here are some of their claims:

INCONSISTENCY AND POOR MANAGEMENT

Sometimes unfit candidates get management positions because they simply had no other options for growth within the company.

PEOPLE DO NOT FEEL VALUABLE

Any project can be closed suddenly and without explanation. Google does not give references to employees of the closed project, referring to the fact that their work has not made a significant contribution to the development of the company.

EMPLOYEES ARE NOT ALLOWED TO INFLUENCE THE PROCESSES

The company is only interested in measurable aspect. The suggestions of ordinary workers are only taken into consideration if they are supported by verifiable data. Employees complain: "Either you are a genius who is able to offer something unheard of before or you are just the engine oil to gears."

LEVEL DOES NOT MATCH LEVEL OF EDUCATION

Google always hires the best and, as a result, qualified professionals might be engaged in unskilled labor. Students from the best colleges work in maintenance, manually remove the violating content from YouTube, or write primitive code for A/B tests.