So how Google is Google?
Google has now become emblematic to excellence. In his epoch making document, Work Rules, Laszlo Bock shared some of his mind blowing insights on how Google is Google as an employer. According to him, experience of the company vastly differs between best performers and average performers.
Because, top performers live in a virtuous cycle of great output, great feedback, more great output and more great feedback. They get much love on a daily basis that the extra PR make them much happier.More important is to learn from your best performers.
Bock asserted how every company has the seeds of its future success in its best people. But most companies fail as because they fail to notice the seeds. Google study its best people in very closely, as Jennifer Kurkoski and Brian Welle co- founded the People and Innovation Lab (PiLab), an internal research team and think tank with mandate to advance the science of how people experience work. PiLab scientists had PhDs on sociology, psychology, economics and organizational behavior and have moved into leadership roles to apply their research skills of organizational benefits and meet challenges.
Michelle Donovan- director of talent development and Neal Patel, technical project lead of the human/social dynamics program was looking for a way to optimize management and have it organically fit within Google’s unique culture. They came up with their flagship program- Project Oxygen. Through this project they found that switching employees from lowest quartile (based on performance and happiness index of team) of managers to highest quartile of managers performed better.
Based on this research, Patel and Donovan developed a semiannual “Upward Feedback Survey”- a tool to rate their respective managers anonymously. Each manager then gets a report with percentages of favorable answers, measured against their last report and the global average. Google strongly encourage its managers to share the results with their respective teams to foster a discussion on how to lead better.
9 sample Upward Feedback Survey feedback are listed below:
1) My manager gives me actionable feedback that helps me improve my performance.
2) My manager does not “micromanage” (i.e. get in details that should be handled at other levels).
3) My manager shows consideration for me as a person.
4) My manager keeps the team focused on our priority results/ deliverables.
5) My manager regularly shares relevant information from his/ her manager and senior leadership.
6) My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about my career development in the past six months.
7) My manager communicates clear goals for our team.
8) My manager has the expertise (eg. coding in Tech, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me.
9) I would recommend my manager to other Googlers.
These surveys have resulted in yielding better managers at Google. The average overall score for managers across Google rose from 83% in 2010 to 88% in 2012, and the lowest quartile of managers’ overall score rose from 70% to 77%.
Laszlo Bock was said to have lost a detailed argument with his team regarding the purgatory consequence of UFS. While UFS was started being considered as an opportunity for Google to get rid of worst managers, Stacy Sullivan advocated for a compassionate approach to avert misuse of the survey. She opposed the idea of UFS being used as a tool to influence managers’ performance ratings, compensations and even preemptive firing at Google. Being the Chief Cultural Officer of Google, Stacy was said to be firm on developmental attribute of UFS.
Business operations in twenty first century is way different than it was three decades ago. Statistics, driven by an elevated culture and compassion are the only key drivers of businesses today. If you are still clinging on to carrot and stick, then it is time for you to change.
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