June 24, 2015

Work Rules

Again, a masterpiece from the Google guys (in this case just one guy).

This is an awesome deep view on how Google People's Operations work and why they work the way they do.

Together with the book "How Google Works" that I've mentioned here before, it's a culture and procedure pool that shows that it's worth rethinking how everything is normally done at a company.


Also a quick overview ("stolen" from a review @ Amazon):

- Operate on the belief that people are fundamentally good
- Use groups of peers or independent teams for: hiring, promotions, salary increases, awards, and firing (often excluding the direct manager)
- Managers exist to: (a) make tie-breaking decisions (b) coach/train to develop employees (c) care about people's well-being (d) set vision/strategy (e) provide technical advice (f) empower by clearing roadblocks
- Conduct 2x-per-year performance reviews on a 5-point scale and then calibrate (which are separate from continuous feedback); get 360 feedback on ‘do more of’ and ‘do differently’ 1x per year
- Make all goals (objectives and key results) public
- Design physical spaces to encourage interaction across departments
- Help employees meet the people they are helping
- Ensure transparency (in all matters unless unlawful)
- Only hire people who are better than you, who will be successful in the context of your organization, and who will make everyone around them more successful
- Referrals from existing employees are the best source of candidates
- Couple assessments of cognitive/problem-solving/learning ability, conscientiousness, and emergent leadership/fit with structured interviews that are job related: (a) Tell me about a time..? (b) What would you do if…? Note: 4 interviews are sufficient
- Eliminate status symbols
- Pay bonuses based on the median salary of all people in a job
- Have people who are the best at something train everyone else (share principles, role-play, discuss, review video of role-play)
- Make pay commensurate with contribution (following a power law rather than a normal distribution)
- Provide experiential rewards (as a complement to monetary awards)
- Celebrate accomplishment with public recognition
- Reward smart failure and make sure to conduct “what did we learn?” post-mortem sessions
- Provide nudges to influence, not dictate, choice
- Uphold the obligation to dissent (a McKinsey core value)
- Treasure the weird
- Put more wood behind fewer arrows
- Building a great culture requires constant experimentation and renewal

Various programs and processes:
- TGIF: weekly all company meeting to share updates plus 30 minutes of Q&A
- Dogfooding: Have employees test new products and provide feedback before piloting with customer
- Bureaucracy Busters: annual program to identify and fix biggest frustrations
- Upward Feedback Survey: 2x per year survey about manager quality
- 20 Percent time: time for people to engage in side-projects (often 120% time)
- Googlegeist: Annual survey focused heavily on innovation, execution, and retention
- Tech Advisor: network of experienced leaders offering confidential, one-on-one office hours
- Random Lunches: set people up with others they don’t yet know
- Tech Talks: Employees sharing work (and non-work) expertise
- Talks at Google: Outsider (ex: authors, business leaders, entertainers, etc.) sharing their wisdom