This newly-published book by Google’s Laszlo Bock is a must-read for anyone in HR, or indeed anybody interested in their workplace culture and how to lead and manage in their organisation.

In writing this, Bock extends Google’s commendable internal commitment to transparency – allowing us an insight into how they maintain their culture while the company grows at an eye-watering pace.

And that transparency is mirrored in the trust that Google places in its employees.

Give people more more trust, freedom and authority than you are comfortable giving them. If you’re not nervous you haven’t given them enough.

It is also clear that the process of hiring is something that Google takes enormously seriously. Bock’s advice is take it slowly and hire the right people – aim to hire smarter people than you – and don’t let managers make hiring decisions for their own teams.

Spending money on the recruiting the right people is so much more effective than hiring the wrong ones and training them into the job, or dealing with consequent problems.

As you’d expect from Google, data is everything. So no decisions are made about any aspect of the business without data to back them up. Generally, seniority carries no sway either so Senior Manager Opinion Syndrome (SMOS) is eliminated.

The section on performance management makes it clear that Google have struggled to get it right -revisiting how performance is measured and rewarded. The stock options (of eye-watering magnitudes) may be alien to those of us in the public sector but the principles of objective setting and measurement are common to all who seek to put in place processes to manage performance.

Rewards, addressed separately from development, should be done unfairly – which may sound counter-intuitive. Read the book to understand what he means by that – and why he says it makes good business sense.

Laszlo suggests that we need to look at the “two tails” in particular – the ultra-high achievers and those who are struggling.

On training, he contends that most organisations waste lots of money on courses which either have no lasting impact or which don’t change behaviours. So find out what works and what doesn’t (hint – where’s the data?).

Managers should seek to make life simple for employees – who need to think of themselves as founders, not employees. And they need to be there when employees lives go wrong. There are some great, and some moving, examples. And some tales of people behaving very badly too!

Leaders need to nudge employees, for example in relation to lifestyle, and where we have big organisations be prepared to make changes to small groups, testing theories and adjusting them before we roll them out to everyone.

If we make mistakes, admit them, learn from them and share the learning.

This is a great book about a very cool place to work. We might not be able to implement everything from it in our own work places but I guarantee you will spot half a dozen things that you’ll want to emulate or try.

Highly recommended!


Review: “Work Rules – Insights from Inside Google” by Laszlo Bock