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10 Things Every Employee Can Learn From Google

10 Things Every Employee Can Learn From Google

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.

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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Last Updated on December 3, 2019

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

7 Powerful Steps to Achieve Career Success

I often hear people say, “I want to be successful but don’t know where to start” or “I’ve achieved career success yet I’m not happy.” And then I ask, “what does career success mean to you?” And many have a hard time articulating their response with much conviction.

It’s common that people lack clarity, focus, and direction. And when you layer on thoughts and actions that are misaligned with your values, this only adds to your misdirected quest to achieve your career success.

A word of caution. It’s going to take some time for you to think about and work on your own path for career success. You need to set aside time and be intentional about the steps you take to achieve career success. In my opinion, this step-by-step guide is apart of your life philosophy.

1. Define Career Success for Yourself

Pause. Give yourself time and space for self-reflection.

What does career success mean to you?

This is about defining your career success:

  • Not what you think you ‘should’ do
  • Not what people may think of you
  • Not adjusting to friends and family’s judgements
  • Not taking actions based on societal or community norms

“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms” – Zen Shin

When you strip away all your external influences and manage your inner critic, what are you left with? You need to define career success that best suits your life situation.

There’s no fixed answer. Everyone is different. Your answer will evolve and be impacted by life events. Here are a few examples of career success:

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  • Work-life balance
  • Opportunities for growth and advancement
  • Feeling valued that my contributions had an impact

Now even as you reflect on the examples above, the descriptions are not specific enough. You’ve got to take it deeper:

  • What do you mean by work-life balance?
  • What do you consider to be opportunities for growth and advancement?
  • How do you like to be recognized for your work? How do you know if your contributions have had an impact?

Let’s take a look at some potential responses to the questions above:

  • I want more time with my family, and less stress at work
  • I want increased responsibilities, to manage a team, a higher income, and the prestige of working at a certain level in the company
  • I’d like my immediate leader to send me a thank-you note or take me out for coffee to genuinely express her or his gratitude. I’ll know I’ve made an impact if I get feedback from my coworkers, leaders and other stakeholders.

Further questions to reflect on to help narrow the focus for the above responses:

  • What are some opportunities that can help you get traction on getting more time with your family? And decrease your stress at work?
  • What’s most important for you in the next 12 months?
  • What’s the significance of receiving others’ feedback?

Now, I’m only scratching the surface with these examples. It takes time to do the inner work and build a solid foundation.

Start this exercise by first asking what career success means to you and then ask yourself meaningful questions to help you dig deeper.

What types of themes emerge from your responses? What keywords or phrases keep coming up for you?

2. Know Your Values

Values are the principles and beliefs that guide your decisions, behaviors and actions. When you’re not aligned with your values and act in a way that conflicts with your beliefs, it’ll feel like life is a struggle.

There are simple value exercises that can help you quickly determine your core values. This one designed by Carnegie Mellon University can help you discover your top 5 values.[1]

Once you have your top 5 values keep them visible. Your brain needs reminders that these are your top values. Here are some ways to make them stick:

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  • Write them on cue cards or notes and post it in your office
  • Take a picture of your values and use it as a screensaver on your phone
  • Put the words on your fridge
  • Add the words on your vision board

Where will your value words be placed in your physical environment so that you have a constant reminder of them?

3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Goals

When writing your short-term and long term life goals, use the SMART framework – Specific Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Treat this as a brainstorming exercise. Your potential and possibilities are limitless.

How you define short-term and long-term is entirely up to you. Short-term can be 30 days, 90 days, or 6 months. Maybe long-term goals are 4 months, 1 year, or 10 years.

Here are a few self-reflection questions to help you write your goals:[2]

  • What would you want to do today if you had the power to make it the way you want?
  • If no hurdles are in the way, what would you like to achieve?
  • If you have the freedom to do whatever you want, what would it be?
  • What type of impact do you want to have on people?
  • Who are the people you most admire? What is it about them or what they have that you’d want for your life or career?
  • What activities energize you? What’s one activity you most love?

Remember to revisit your core values as you refine yours goals:

  • Are your goals in or out of alignment with your core values?
  • What adjustments do you need to make to your goals? Maybe some of your goals can be deleted because they no longer align with your values.
  • How attainable are your goals? Breakdown your goals into digestible pieces.
  • Do your short-term goals move you towards attaining your long-term goals?

Get very clear and specific about your goals. Think about an archer – a person who shoots with a bow and arrows at a target. This person is laser focused on the target – the center of the bullseye. The target is your goal.

By focusing on one goal at a time and having that goal visible, you can behave and act in ways that will move you closer to your goal.

4. Determine Your Top Talents

What did you love doing as a kid? What made these moments fun? What did you have a knack for? What did you most cherish about these times? What are the common themes?

What work feels effortless? What work do you do that doesn’t seem like work? Think about work you can lose track of time doing and you don’t even feel tired of it.[3]

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What are your desires? Try it out. Experiment. Take action and start. How can you incorporate more of this type of work into your daily life?

What themes emerge from your responses? How do your responses compare to your responses from the values exercise and your goals?

What do you notice?

5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience

Do you have tendencies to use your head or heart to make decisions?

I have a very strong tendency to make rational, practical, and fact-based decisions using my head. It’s very rare for me to make decisions using my emotions. I was forced to learn how to make more intuitive decisions by listening to my gut when I was struggling with pivotal life decisions. I was forced to feel and listen to my inner voice to make decisions that feel most natural to me. This was very unfamiliar to me, however, it expanded my identity.

Review this list of Feeling Words. Use the same technique you use for the values exercise to narrow down how you want to feel.

Keep these words visible too!

Review your responses. What do you observe? What insights do you gain from these responses and those in the above steps?

6. Be Willing to Sit with Discomfort

Make career decisions aligned with your values, goals, talents and feelings. This is not for the faint hearted. It takes real work, courage and willingness to cut out the noise around you. You’ll need to sit with discomfort for a bit until you build up your muscle to hit the targets you want.

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Surround yourself with a supportive network to help you through these times.

“These pains you feel are messengers. Listen to them” – Rumi

7. Manage Your Own Career

Not to be cynical, but no one can make you happy but yourself. If you don’t take control of your career and manage it like your own business – no one will.

Discern between things that you can control and what you can’t control. For example, you may not be able to control who gets a promotion. However, you can control how you react to it and what you’ve learned about yourself in that situation.

Summing Up

For many who have gone through a career change or been impacted by life events, these steps may seem very basic. However, it’s sometimes the basics that we forget to do. The simple things and moments can edge us closer to our larger vision for ourselves.

Staying present and appreciating what you have today can sometimes help you achieve your long-term goals. For example, if you’re always talking about not having enough time and wanting work-life balance, think about what was good in your work day? Maybe you took a walk outside with your co-workers. This could be a small step to help you reframe how you can attain work-life balance.

Remember to take time for yourself. Hit pause, notice, observe and reflect to achieve career success by getting deliberate and intentional:

  1. Define Career Success for Yourself
  2. Know Your Values
  3. Define Your Short-Term and Long-Term Life and Goals
  4. Determine Your Top Talents
  5. Identify ‘Feeling’ Words You Want to Experience
  6. Be Willing to sit with Discomfort
  7. Manage Your Own Career

“When you stop chasing the wrong things you give the right things a chance to catch you.” – Lolly Daskal

Good luck and best wishes always!

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Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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