How to Apply Google Smarts to Your Company Culture

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Just because your business doesn't rival Google (yet), there's no reason why you shouldn't embrace its culture. By Sarah Landrum (Founder, Punched Clocks)

Google is often touted as a company to imitate. It’s well-known for its innovative culture that helps keep the company ahead of the game. Google produces amazing inventions and shares ground-breaking insights.

When it comes to business success, mimicking Google’s culture can take you far. Here are four ways you should mimic Google. And one way you shouldn’t.

1. Transparency

Google is one of the most transparent companies around. After the Great Recession, that has only worked in its favor. But, it isn’t just transparent with the public; the Google culture actually aims to be transparent, too.

Translating that into your company is sometimes easier said than done. It can be hard to get sections to work together, especially when they may be competing for resources like someone’s time or a share of the budget. Instead of battling it out, let people know why the executives have made those decisions. Maybe one project got a bigger budget because it was able to bring in more sales.

You can easily spread the word by sending out weekly or monthly company newsletters to employees. Many places are happy to do it for customers, but neglect working on if for their own people. Your employees will be thrilled to know why decisions have been made. The chance to see their projects listed there can be extra motivation.

2. Hiring

Google has the reputation as a wonderful place to work. So the company can hire only the absolute best. To effectively do this, it’s had to refine its hiring process.

Google’s hiring process is unique because Google is unique. The company focuses on collaboration, and its interview process reflects that. If your company is more focused on individual work, you would need to look for that. Google identified the core aspects of the company. Then it designed an interview process to reflect those values.

Try to involve your candidate in both the culture and the daily grind of the position. To see if they’re a good fit, have them interview with two or three people. See what everyone says. Ask them behavioral-based interview questions to see what they would do in specific situations. See if their answers are in line with what you’d expect.

Take a cue from the tech-giant itself and use technology to improve your hiring processes; you’ll lower the costs of hiring and reap the same benefits as large companies with entire HR departments.

Tailor your hiring procedures to reflect your organization’s values and culture. Then implement the right technology to support you, and you’ll be on your path to finding the right candidates.

3.  Management

Empowering your employees is one of the best things you can do. Google, of course, excels at it. Part of the secret sauce is transparency and making the right hires. But the company also seriously commits to finding the right managers. Google wants all employees to advance and stretch their creativity.

How so? Google works to make sure its managers don’t micromanage. No one likes to be micromanaged; it makes people feel like they’re incompetent and untrustworthy. If you feel like that, how long will you stay at your job?

Instead of promoting the next person in line, invest in your managers. Survey their employees to find out where they need improvement. Find the best managers and ask them to coach those who could use improvement.

Above all, learn to recognize bad managers and make them better.

4.  Perks

Google is famous for its perks. Free breakfast, free lunch, nap pods, ball pits and company retreats – if you can name a sweet company perk, Google probably first offered it.

These benefits contribute to employee happiness, retention and performance. More than that, though, Google’s culture exceeds the perks they offer. As a company you should offer some perks, but don’t get swept up in them; it’s the culture that matters most. After all, people don’t work at Google just because they get free lunch.

One thing that seems to work well is to use perks to encourage some friendly competition around the office. This can work wonderfully to encourage people to stay up-to-date on current trends and inventions.

You could offer a gift card for whoever reads and posts the best tips on your company’s internal website. Or you can offer a monthly prize for people who do a presentation of new advancements in the industry. Whatever you do, make sure to keep it related to your workplace. Start small and give people time to adjust. It’ll catch on, but you may have to lead the way – just don’t take the prize yourself.

5. But NO to the Open Office...

Google’s open-office floor plan has gotten attention, and turned it into something of a fad. While it sounds good in theory, there are some major hurdles that have to be overcome. Unfortunately, most businesses don’t get over them. Google, of course, does.

Think about a high school cafeteria. It was loud, noisy and smelled weird. While you might not have a sudden food-fight break out in your office, just think about how difficult it would be to work in a similar environment. A 2013 study from Jungsoo Kim and Richard de Dear found that productivity declined with an open floor plan.

Of course, it’s not so surprising when you think about that noisy lunchroom. Some people may work just fine in that situation – but others can’t. Google lets people work where they want, so if they need privacy they can get it. If you can’t offer that option, it’s best to give people their own space.

Whose workplace culture inspires you?

Photo credit: turtix via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and Digital Marketing Specialist. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to sharing advice on navigating the work world. Passionate about helping others find happiness and success in their careers, she shares advice on everything from the job search and entrepreneurship to professional development, and more! Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum.