What Can Google Teach IT Managers About Making Work Better

Google thinks that it's solved the challenge of working better
Google thinks that it’s solved the challenge of working better
Image Credit: Will Marlow

Would you agree that for most of the members of your team, they show up at work each day thinking to themselves “one more day, I’ve just got to get by and do my dumb job”? If this is the case, then as an IT manager what hope will you ever have of using your IT manager skills to find a way to get them to boost their productivity and work together as a team better?

What Google Has Learned About Work

A great deal of what Google has learned about work has come from Laszlo Bock who is their head of Human Resources – or “people operations” as he likes to call it. He knows what he is talking about. He has been responsible for growing Google from a company of 3,000 employees to one that employs 53,000. Bock believes that it’s the responsibility of IT managers to get the IT manager training that will be needed in order to make work better.

Now exactly how to go about doing this has always been a real challenge. Bock thinks that it comes down to doing a number of different things the right way. These include creating a culture of transparency where little is hidden from all employees. This needs to be accompanied by goal setting that everyone can understand and work towards. Each employee needs to understand how they are doing and so this requires frequent performance reviews. Finally, the workplace of the team needs to be less hierarchical and instead empower each team member more.

Google strongly believes in providing their employees with the freedom to act on their own. Bock believes that this is important because by doing so, it causes the team member to act like they are the ones who own the company and the end result will be that they will end up taking responsibility for every part of the business. In order to find out how things are going, Google has their workers critique themselves, their coworkers, and even their bosses.

Google Thinks That It All Starts With Hiring

At most companies, hiring new members of a team is something that we do all too infrequently. This means that we never really get a chance to get good at doing this. Google believes that the value of any team member starts with the hiring process. The first thing that they believe in is hiring by committee. Allowing many employees to participate in the process generally results in better decisions being made.

At Google, the hiring process involves committee members asking the job candidate questions from a list of standardized questions. When other interviewers ask the candidate questions, they’ll draw from the same list of questions. The net result of this is that by using a set of standardized questions, any individual interviewer bias can be weeded out. This permits the results of the interview to be compared more easily.

What makes Google a bit different from most companies is that they believe in hiring the right person for the job. What this means to them is that they really don’t care about a candidate’s background. Instead, what they want to do is to find ways to make them be as productive as they possibly can be. A great deal of this has to do with taking the time to find ways to keep them happy at work.

What All Of This Means For You

Let’s face it: who wouldn’t want to work for Google? Not only do they seem to have enough money to properly fund every project that they want to work on, but they also seem to have solved the problem of how to make a work environment that people want to come to work at. As IT managers we need to understand that not all of us can work at Google so we need to take the time to study what they are doing right and see if we can apply those lessons to our team.

One thing that sets Google apart from many firms is that they spend a great deal of effort in trying to empower their employees. They really want them to feel as though they own what they are creating for the company. Additionally, Google believes that IT team building starts with hiring the right people. They do this by using committees and by ignoring a person’s background.

IT managers are always on the lookout for better ways of motivating their teams. Google seems to have been willing to spend a lot of time focused on their recruiting efforts and looking at the employee data that they’ve collected. The result of all of this effort is that they believe that they’ve discovered what makes workers want to work. This is important information that all of us need to study and then apply to our IT teams.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: How can you make the members of your team believe that they own the work that they create?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Is it possible to be too upbeat? IT managers have been told for a long time that having a cheery disposition is one of our critical IT manager skills not only for getting our work done, but also for being able to motivate our teams to get their work done. However, is it possible that we’ve got this all wrong? Would it instead be better for us to spend more of our time worrying about things?