I recently attended a presentation by Shannon Deegan, Google’s Director of People.
Now, a lot has been written about this company and how it is up there in the stratosphere of “best places to work,” as decreed by Fortune magazine and others. Not surprisingly, Google received around 2 million resumés last year and filled 5000 positions. And growth? They have grown from zero to 25,000 employees in just eight years.
Here are a few points, in no particular order, that stood out for me from Shannon’s speech:
- The company’s mission, created by the founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, is not expected to change for at least a century. It reads, To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.
- They provide three meals a day, free in the company cafeteria. Contrary to popular (external) wisdom, said Deegan, it’s not to get people back to their work stations quickly. Rather, it is intended to foster an opportunity for collaboration, discussion and reflection.
- Employees are encouraged to post any idea internally, like “Wouldn’t it be great if we could…” Anyone can comment on the idea, support it, expand on it, shoot it down, etc. They can also offer to join in an ad hoc effort to see if it can be brought to fruition. Some pledge to devote their 20% of free focus time (a feature Google is famous for) on it.
- Managers are regarded primarily as resources who work for their team.
- At Google they truly celebrate mistakes. (although Sergey Brin has been quoted as saying, “If you’re going to fail, please fail quickly.”)
- The HR function should be staffed with 1/3 traditional HR practitioners, 1/3 with management consulting expertise, and 1/3 with world-class Ph.D’s and M.S. degrees.
- Their employee feedback survey has two primary outcomes: (1) Retention and (2) Innovation.