I picked up this book after reading “Radical Candor” that cited numerous examples from Google.
As the title says, the book is all about what did and did not work at Google in the context of people management. The book covers 10 topics ranging from hiring to employee freedom to pay and perks to performance review. For each topic, the author provides plenty of example driven explanation of how it was managed or tackled at Google. While the solutions implemented at Google may not be directly applicable to all workplaces, the author provides good reasons of why one should at least consider adopting them with some modifications.
The most impressive part of the book is how the processes at Google are intensively data driven albeit having some downsides. Also, it was nice to learn about how many of the described policies at Google consider the employee’s well-being, e.g., how does the stock vest if an employee dies, nudging to eat healthy.
Unlike books such as “High Output Management” and “Radical Candor” that provide solid insights that apply to both the managers and the organization, this book is targeted more towards organization and less towards individuals.
Now, here are few highlights from the book that are generally applicable.
- You must first choose whether you want to be a founder or an employee. It’s not a question of literal ownership. It’s a question of attitude.
- The most talented people on the planet want an aspiration that is also inspiring. The challenge for leaders is to craft such a goal.
- People see their work as just a job (“a necessity that’s not a major positive in their lives”), a career (something to “win” or “advance”), or a calling (“a source of enjoyment and fulfillment where you’re doing socially useful work”).
- Once you’ve chosen to think and act like a founder, your next decision is about what kind of culture you want to create.
- Superb hiring isn’t just about recruiting the biggest name, top salesperson, or cleverest engineer. It’s about finding the very best people who will be successful in the context of your organization, and who will make everyone around them more successful.
- The best predictor of how someone will perform in a job is a work sample test (29 percent). The second-best predictors of performance are tests of general cognitive ability (26 percent). Tied with tests of general cognitive ability are structured interviews (26 percent), where candidates are asked a consistent set of questions with clear criteria to assess the quality of responses.
- What managers miss is that every time they give up a little control, it creates a wonderful opportunity for their team to step up, while giving the manager herself more time for new challenges.
- Pick an area where your people are frustrated, and let them fix it. IF there are constraints, limited time or money, tell them what they are. Be transparent with your people and give them a voice in shaping your team or company. You’ll be stunned by what they accomplish.
- Focus instead of what does matter: a fair calibration of performance against goals, and earnest coaching on how to improve.
- Be a good coach. Empower the team and do not micromanage. Express interest/concern for team members’ success and personal well-being. Be very productive/results-oriented. Be a good communicator — listen and share information. Help the team with career development. Have a clear vision/strategy for the team. Have important technical skills that help advice the team.
- Divorcing developmental and evaluative feedback is essential.
- It’s a better investment to deliver less content and have people retain it, than it is to deliver more hours of “learning” that is quickly forgotten.
- For the learner, having actual practitioners teaching is far more effective that listening to academics, professional trainers, or consultants.
- If your goals are ambitious and crazy enough, even failure will be a pretty good achievement.
- Innovation tends to occur in the structural holes between social groups.
- Just because something is done a certain way today, doesn’t mean it ought to be done that way.
- The simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions.
- The test of the company, and of the management style I’m advocating in this book, is not whether it delivers perfection. It’s whether we stay true to our values and continue to do the right thing even when tested. And whether we come through those challenges with more refined commitment, shared among all Googlers, to our beliefs.
- “A crisis is an opportunity to have impact. Drop everything and deal with the crisis.” — Jonathan Rosenberg
- Innovation thrives on creativity and experimentation, but it also requires thoughtful pruning.
- The key to balancing individual freedom with overall direction is to be transparent.
- Ohter leaders will prove to be made of sterner stuff. Thos of you who, in the face of fear and failure, persevere and hold true to your principles, who interpose yourselves between the forces and faces buffeting the organization, will mold the soul of the institution with your words and deeds. And these will be the organizations that people will want to be a part of.
- Make developmental conversations safe and productive by having them all the time.
- The more specific you can be in slicing expertise, the easier it will be to study your stars and discern why they are more successful than others.
- If you’re getting hiring right, most of those who struggle do so because you’ve put them in the wrong role, not because they are inept. Help them to learn or to find new roles.
- Be generous in your public recognition.
- Celebrate the achievements of teams, and make a point of cheering failures where important lessons were learned.