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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 March 29, 2021

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

5 Types of Horrible Bosses and How to Beat Them All

When I left university I took a job immediately, I had been lucky as I had spent a year earning almost nothing as an intern so I was offered a role. On my first day I found that I had not been allocated a desk, there was no one to greet me so I was left for some hours ignored. I happened to snipe about this to another employee at the coffee machine two things happened. The first was that the person I had complained to was my new manager’s wife, and the second was, in his own words, ‘that he would come down on me like a ton of bricks if I crossed him…’

What a great start to a job! I had moved to a new city, and had been at work for less than a morning when I had my first run in with the first style of bad manager. I didn’t stay long enough to find out what Mr Agressive would do next. Bad managers are a major issue. Research from Approved Index shows that more than four in ten employees (42%) state that they have previously quit a job because of a bad manager.

The Dream Type Of Manager

My best manager was a total opposite. A man who had been the head of the UK tax system and was working his retirement running a company I was a very junior and green employee for. I made a stupid mistake, one which cost a lot of time and money and I felt I was going to be sacked without doubt.

I was nervous, beating myself up about what I had done, what would happen. At the end of the day I was called to his office, he had made me wait and I had spent that day talking to other employees, trying to understand where I had gone wrong. It had been a simple mistyped line of code which sent a massive print job out totally wrong. I learn how I should have done it and I fretted.

My boss asked me to step into his office, he asked me to sit down. “Do you know what you did?” I babbled, yes, I had been stupid, I had not double-checked or asked for advice when I was doing something I had not really understood. It was totally my fault. He paused. “Will you do that again?” Of course I told him I would not, I would always double check, ask for help and not try to be so clever when I was not!

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“Okay…”

That was it. I paused and asked, should I clear my desk. He smiled. “You have learnt a valuable lesson, I can be sure that you will never make a mistake like that again. Why would I want to get rid of an employee who knows that?”

I stayed with that company for many years, the way I was treated was a real object lesson in good management. Sadly, far too many poor managers exist out there.

The Complete Catalogue of Bad Managers

The Bully

My first boss fitted into the classic bully class. This is so often the ‘old school’ management by power style. I encountered this style again in the retail sector where one manager felt the only way to get the best from staff was to bawl and yell.

However, like so many bullies you will often find that this can be someone who either knows no better or is under stress and they are themselves running scared of the situation they have found themselves in.

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The Invisible Boss

This can either present itself as management from afar (usually the golf course or ‘important meetings) or just a boss who is too busy being important to deal with their staff.

It can feel refreshing as you will often have almost total freedom with your manager taking little or no interest in your activities, however you will soon find that you also lack the support that a good manager will provide. Without direction you may feel you are doing well just to find that you are not delivering against expectations you were not told about and suddenly it is all your fault.

The Micro Manager

The frustration of having a manager who feels the need to be involved in everything you do. The polar opposite to the Invisible Boss you will feel that there is no trust in your work as they will want to meddle in everything you do.

Dealing with the micro-manager can be difficult. Often their management style comes from their own insecurity. You can try confronting them, tell them that you can do your job however in many cases this will not succeed and can in fact make things worse.

The Over Promoted Boss

The Over promoted boss categorises someone who has no idea. They have found themselves in a management position through service, family or some corporate mystery. They are people who are not only highly unqualified to be managers they will generally be unable to do even your job.

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You can find yourself persistently frustrated by the situation you are in, however it can seem impossible to get out without handing over your resignation.

The Credit Stealer

The credit stealer is the boss who will never publically acknowledge the work you do. You will put in the extra hours working on a project and you know that, in the ‘big meeting’ it will be your credit stealing boss who will take all of the credit!

Again it is demoralising, you see all of the credit for your labour being stolen and this can often lead to good employees looking for new careers.

3 Essential Ways to Work (Cope) with Bad Managers

Whatever type of bad boss you have there are certain things that you can do to ensure that you get the recognition and protection you require to not only remain sane but to also build your career.

1. Keep evidence

Whether it is incidents with the bully or examples of projects you have completed with the credit stealer you will always be well served to keep notes and supporting evidence for projects you are working on.

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Buy your own notebook and ensure that you are always making notes, it becomes a habit and a very useful one as you have a constant reminder as well as somewhere to explore ideas.

Importantly, if you do have to go to HR or stand-up for yourself you will have clear records! Also, don’t always trust that corporate servers or emails will always be available or not tampered with. Keep your own content.

2. Hold regular meetings

Ensure that you make time for regular meetings with your boss. This is especially useful for the over-promoted or the invisible boss to allow you to ‘manage upwards’. Take charge where you can to set your objectives and use these meetings to set clear objectives and document the status of your work.

3. Stand your ground, but be ready to jump…

Remember that you don’t have to put up with poor management. If you have issues you should face them with your boss, maybe they do not know that they are coming across in a bad way.

However, be ready to recognise if the situation is not going to change. If that is the case, keep your head down and get working on polishing your CV! If it isn’t working, there will be something better out there for you!

Good luck!

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