Welcome to The Corporate Communique Business Book Club! I’m a BIG fan of business and psychology books that offer real-world takeaways. In this series, I’ll give you an elevator pitch review of a book, a recommendation on when you should read it, and leave you with a quote to quote when you want to sound like the smartest person in the room. Here’s review #2! Read review #1 here.
Author: Laszlo Bock
Read it when: Office politics and corporate red tape have you wondering whether your experience is universal and what it would be like to work at a company with an innovative culture (and free catered meals).
TCC Elevator Pitch Review: When you think of Google, you probably think of everyone’s favorite search engine, or one of the many products and services the technology giant produces. But behind Google Maps, Earth and Docs are over 70,000 cream of the crop Google employees (or Googlers, as they call themselves). And behind every Googler is…an HR team? Not quite. At Google, it’s all about People Operations.
At the time of the book’s publication, Bock was head of People Operations at Google. Each chapter shares lessons on what makes Google a great place to work, as well as examples of good-intentioned policies gone wrong. At Google, decisions aren’t made arbitrarily. Instead, they’re rooted in behavioral economics, psychology and a little bit of common sense (how novel for the workplace!)
Bock outlines bold lessons like “Pay unfairly (it’s more fair!)” and “Take away managers’ power over employees,” and explains how everyone, no matter where they work, can apply them. But this mentality would never fly at my current job, you say. The lessons are meant to show the “art of the possible,” and Bock takes a rational approach in explaining that while Google’s culture and strategy can’t be replicated everywhere, bits and pieces of it can. It’s called becoming a founder (which also happens to be the name of chapter one).
By the end of the book, you’ll walk away with a better understanding of how exciting and forward-thinking the HR industry can be, and how Google’s unique approach contributes to the success of its individual employees, which, in turn, means success for the company.
A quote to quote: “Work is far less meaningful and pleasant than it needs to be because well-intentioned leaders don’t believe, on a primal level, that people are good. Organizations build immense bureaucracies to control their people. These control structures are an admission that people can’t be trusted. Or at best, they suggest that one’s baser nature can be controlled and channeled by some enlightened figure with the wisdom to know what is best.” – Laszlo Bock, Work Rules!