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10 Things Every Employee Can Learn From Google

10 Things Every Employee Can Learn From Google
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In the corporate world, Google is almost as famous for the innovative way it manages its employees as it is for its groundbreaking technology. Completely turning common convention on its head, Google has a lot of ideas about what makes for a good employee that a lot of other businesses disagreed with at first. Over time, though, they have been coming around, which is why you should be an expert in the qualifications Google has for an ideal employee. Here are 10 of them:

1. Be skilled, not just educated

Laszlo Bock, the senior vice president of people operations at Google, opened up about the company’s strategies in a big way in a 2013 interview for The New York Times. One thing he mentioned was that Google placed a value on abilities rather than an impressive education. Bock said that, unless it’s someone only recently out of college, Google doesn’t judge applicants based on their G.P.A. To be the kind of employee Google wants, make sure you have practicable skills in addition to decent test scores.

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2. Your ability to learn is more important than your current IQ

Bock also said that learning ability is a major factor for Google when deciding who to hire. It might be good to test higher on the charts in an IQ test right away, but that potential for growth makes all the difference. After all, who would you rather hire in the long term: the ninth-grader with a college education or someone who graduated from an Ivy League school in his twenties?

3. Expertise can be a hindrance

Experts are all too often stuck in their ways. They learned the exact right way to do things. A company like Google needs results that aren’t just accurate but innovative. Bock and other Google executives think that someone new to the technology field will likely have more original ideas than a veteran of the industry. Don’t be dissuaded if you’re not an expert in your particular field, because that could actually end up being a benefit.

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4. Know when to lead and when to follow

According to Bock, Google wants “emergent leaders who are able to mix confidence and adaptability.” Emergent leaders know how to take the lead when that is what’s best for the project, but just as importantly they know when to step back and let someone more qualified take center stage. Bock has said that “what’s critical to be an effective leader in this environment is you have to be willing to relinquish power.” Too many promising talents shoot themselves in the foot by stepping up every time, when once in a while they really need to sit down. Don’t make the same mistake.

5. Feel a sense of ownership over your work

You may be working on company time for the company dime, but Google wants you to be as committed to your work as if you have the only stakes in it. Treat every project you take on at your job like it is your reputation on the line, not just the company’s. Present your best self at all times.

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6. Go big or go home

Google Glass. Self-driving cars. Do these sound like small ideas to you? Google seems bored by small ideas, and would much rather see you take on something daring and innovative. Current chairman and former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, once said, “I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next.” Google comes up with ideas that guide a whole population’s future. Similarly, your boss at work is really going to take notice if you’re the one teaching him.

7. Look for the unexpected

A lot of technology Google created, starting from the search engine and going all the way to the self-driving cars, was unheard of or inconceivable when Google introduced it. Schmidt said, “Our business strategy is not to compete.” The company, instead of fighting for a slice of a pie, decides to make whole new pies. You should also be coming up with new ways to find success as an employee.

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8. Don’t focus on making money right away

Google believes that the priority of a product should at first be that it creates value. A lot of Google’s projects had no way of making money when they were first introducted, but that changed after Google made the products indispensable for consumers and slowly introduced a way to profit off of them. Google entrepreneur Astro Teller points this out in an interview for the BBC, saying, “Things like search or translate, things like maps, have been in the public domain free to the users but often without advertising or any form of compensation–sometimes for many years–when Google didn’t make money on it or even have a plan to make money on it and Google was just ‘Let’s make value for the users. We’ll figure out how to make money later’.” This is a hard tip to do in a more traditional business environment, but try to focus on value first and figure out how to make money off your creation later.

9. Devote time to other projects

Every Friday Google employees come into the office to work on something other than what they devoted the other days of the week to. This led to a lot of innovations that would go on to define Google, like Gmail. Astro Teller, the overseer of the audacious Google[x], said that to succeed at those projects, “there has to be a problem that we can identify, and sometimes that’s harder than you would think.” But, once you figure out a problem that can be solved, Google employees tackle it head on. Like Google, set aside some of your time to do work that’s a little off from center.

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10. Failure is a necessary step towards success

For every Gmail, there are a dozen other projects that didn’t go anywhere and were forgotten. Even the highly-publicized Google Glass hardware has been far from a smashing success. Google understands that those missteps are crucial to getting to the place where you can make a big leap. Don’t be afraid to fail because it shows that you are trying, and can be a step towards your next success.

Featured photo credit: At the Google HQ in Reston/Will Morlow via flickr.com

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Matt OKeefe

Matt is a marketer and writer who shares about lifestyle and productivity tips on Lifehack.

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Published on July 27, 2021

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow

15 Smart Video Conferencing Etiquette Tips to Follow
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During the pandemic, video conferencing replaced in-person meetings and has now become the standard option for business meetings. Over the past 17 months, most workers have gotten past the video conferencing learning curve with Zoom or Microsoft Teams (or their platform of choice).

But just as with in-person meetings, attention can wax and wane. Some say we’re just not used to staring at ourselves so much on the screen. Instead of fixating on that, try employing smart video conferencing etiquette, or you may risk indiscretions that will flag you as a slacker.

Put the Pro in Professional

After more than a year of fine-tuning, here are the new rules of video conferencing etiquette.

1. Mute Your Mobile and Other Devices

The first video conference etiquette you need to know is muting your other devices. Just as in the pre-COVID days, someone’s obnoxious ring tone blaring Taylor Swift’s newest single in the middle of a meeting is also an annoyance if it happens during a Zoom meeting and so is the inevitable fumbling to turn off the sound. Even the apologies to the group get tiresome.

Also, when notifications are activated on the computer that you’re using for the meeting, the incoming message takes over the audio and you’ll miss out on snippets of the conversation. Be sure to eliminate this possible faux pas.

2. Dress the Part

While working from home, you may have fallen into the habit of slipping on your comfiest T-shirt each day. Hey, no judgments! But before you log on to your video conference, try to make an effort with your appearance.

Depending on your company culture and the importance of your meeting, consider dressing the part of the professional whom you wish to project. It will help you feel more self-assured, and others will likely take you more seriously.

For women, wear light make-up, put on earrings, and make sure your blouse is crisply pressed. For men, show up freshly shaved. Wearing a crisp collared shirt in a solid color will usually suffice.

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Pro Tip: Stay away from wearing white or black, unless those colors look great on you. Consider wearing light blue or brown instead.

3. Stage Your Workspace

Have you noticed the backdrops of experts interviewed on news shows? Bookshelves and photographs are carefully curated, and no busy-patterned furniture or artwork is in sight.

Take note of what appears behind you when you choose the location of your video conferences. Piles of junk mail on the table or stacks of folded laundry on the couch will convey more about your personal life than you care to share. Make sure you remove clutter from the camera’s eye, and present a tidy, orderly workspace to your colleagues, coworkers, and bosses.

4. Put Some Thought Into Lighting and Perspective

Be aware that in a video conference, your computer camera can actually make you look up to ten pounds heavier depending on where you sit. But you can easily drop those added pounds by moving back from the screen to diminish the wide-angle distortion.

Frame your head on the screen by tilting the screen up or down. Also, it’s best to not place yourself in front of a window or bright light, which makes you appear in shadow. Instead, face the light source, moving it (or yourself) until you have a flattering amount of illumination. You can also purchase some small spotlights that allow you to add light as needed.

Pro Tip: If your lights add too much redness to your skin, consider counter-balancing with a green filter.

Remember That Half of Life Is Showing Up

5. Arrive on Time

In the old days of in-person meetings, it was nearly impossible to slip in late into a meeting unnoticed. In today’s video conferences, logging in late still shows poor form. Instead, strive to arrive five minutes early and get yourself settled.

Once the meeting is underway, the host may be less attentive about late arrivals waiting to be let in. Diverting the host’s attention away from the meeting with a tardy entry request is the ultimate giveaway that you didn’t honor the schedule. If you don’t want a black mark against you, log in on time.

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6. Turn on Your Video

Few people like to see their face on the screen, but buck up and turn on your camera in video conferences. In most cases, it’s better to be a face on a screen than a name in a blank square. Your statements will be more memorable when other meeting attendees can see you.

If you need to turn off the video, either because of a poor connection, some commotion in the room, or a need for a quick break, give a short explanation via the chat feature. Then, go back on video as soon as you’re able.

Pro Tip: Keep your explanation for your departure pithy. “Sorry! Doorbell rang. Back in five” says it all. Be sure to honor what you say in chat and really do return in five minutes.

7. Plan Ahead Before Sharing Your Screen

Don’t be one of those people who makes everyone else wait as you click through folders in search of a document. That’s just poor video conferencing etiquette. If you know you’ll need to share a document or video on your screen, prepare by pulling it out of its folder and onto your desktop. Also, clean up the files and folders on your desktop to reduce clutter and facilitate easy access. Close other programs like chat, calendar notifications, and email. Disable pop-up notifications to ensure there’ll be no unforeseen distractions.

Be sure to remind the host before the meeting that you’ll need them to activate the screen-sharing function. Show courtesy once you’re finished by hitting “stop share” to return to the screen with participants.

Attend to the Pesky Details

8. Make Sure That Meetings Remain Right-Sized

With the easy accessibility of video conferencing, it can be tempting to extend the meeting invitation beyond the core group and include everyone peripherally involved in a project. But just as with in-person meetings, the more people involved, the more unwieldy the meeting becomes.

Use good judgment when asking others to sit through a video conference so that you don’t needlessly take up others’ time and so that participants can be fully engaged.

9. Remember to “Unmute” Before You Speak

Most of us are likely able to count on one hand the number of video conferences when someone didn’t have to be reminded, “You’re on mute!” Forgetting to unmute before speaking has become one of the most common missteps in video conferencing.[1]

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Show everyone your impeccable video-conferencing poise by managing your mute feature with flawless control.

10. Stay on Point to Keep the Meeting Length in Check

As with in-person meetings, an agenda with assigned time limits for discussions remains necessary to keep a meeting focused. Data shows, however, that video conferencing can actually reduce meeting time.[2] Reasons include the elimination of commuting time and the ability to screen share and annotate to keep everyone on task.

Additionally, side conversations are virtually impossible with video conferencing now that you can no longer have back-and-forth exchanges with the person beside you.

Pro Tip: If you’re running the meeting, let attendees know in advance the protocol for the chat feature. Is it okay for them to “chat among themselves” or not? (See point 11, as well.)

Talking Has a Time and a Place

11. Chat Appropriately

Just like side conversations or texting in an in-person meeting, the use of the chat feature during a video conference can be disrespectful unless it’s directed to all participants. Hence, it’s good video conferencing etiquette to mind your use of the chat.

At the start of the meeting, you may want to ask the host if it’s alright for participants to use the chat feature. This allows them to disable it if they choose. Used appropriately, it can be a helpful tool to clarify or amplify an earlier point once the conversation has moved on or to let the group know that you need to sign off early (and why).

12. Use the “Raise Hand” Feature to Avoid Interruptions

The slight lag in many video conferences can result in speaking over another person if you attempt to jump into a conversation. To avoid this awkward interruption, indicate when you have something to add to the discussion with the raise-your-hand feature that signals the host you would like to speak. This effective meeting management device makes video conferencing run more smoothly, especially with a large group, but it must be activated and monitored by the host.

Pro Tip: For meetings of six to ten people, sometimes the old-fashioned raising of your physical hand may be the best option. But it’s up to the meeting host. Ask them what they would prefer, and follow that.

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13. Don’t Record the Session or Take Photos Without Prior Permission

In this case, not sharing is caring. The “sharing culture” made popular through social media has little place in video conferencing. Before recording a meeting or capturing a screenshot of the participants, always ask for consent in advance from the full roster of attendees. Knowing that a video conference will be photographed or recorded could have a bearing on what others are willing to discuss.

Manage Yourself

14. Minimize Distractions

While de-activating audio and video features can keep distractions from affecting the other participants, you will need to manage noise and disruptions on your end to give your full attention to the meeting.

Move out of high-traffic zones in your home, keep your door closed, and ask family members to be considerate.

15. Save Snacking for Later

Save snacking for later—or earlier. Eating while on video conference is a no-no. Munching in front of the group while close to the camera—as you are when video conferencing—subjects the participants to an up-close and (too) personal view of your food consumption process.

However, it’s perfectly fine to sip quietly from a glass of water or cup of coffee or tea. If the meeting threatens to last for more than two hours, you may want to ask the host in advance to schedule a five-minute break at the halfway point.

Final Thoughts

Even though bosses are now beginning to ask workers to spend some of their workdays on-site, up to 80 percent will permit employees to work remotely at least part of the time, which means more video conferencing in your future.[3] Mastering these video conferencing etiquette tips will help you dial in—as well as dial back—your participation and demonstrate your unwavering level of engagement to the team.

Featured photo credit: Chris Montgomery via unsplash.com

Reference

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