Summary: Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock
Summary: Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock

Summary: Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock

Everyone at Google is a Founder.

Everyone is expected to think and act like a founder, which means taking full responsibility for one’s actions.


Freedom is free. Give more of it.

You might not be giving enough freedom and responsibility until you’re nervous.


You can understand a group culture in 3 ways.

  1. By looking at its artifacts such as physical spaces and behaviors.
  2. By surveying beliefs and values of team members.
  3. By digging deeper into underlying assumptions behind those beliefs and values.


People see their own in 3 dimensions.

  1. Just a job (to make ends meet)
  2. A career (to develop status symbol)
  3. A calling (to fulfill life and enjoyment)

It’s important to think your job as a calling to rule your work.


Invest heavily in hiring.

The top-notch candidates rarely exist because they aren’t looking for an easy change. The difference between average and exceptional is profound. Pour substantial resources into your hiring process because even Google struggles in this department.


Hire slowly and raise the bar.

If you’re in doubt, don’t hire. It’s better off holding your position until someone who raises the bar comes along.  Google has found the optimum number of interviews is 4, and the average hiring time is 6 weeks.


Hire together.

Google averages candidate scorecards because community makes better decisions. You should not give hiring managers sole authority to hire on their own. Form a hiring committee with members from different departments to form an unbiased opinion.


Hire yourself.

Google built their own G-hire software network system to hire their own candidates, instead of paying recruiters on ongoing basis.


Brain teasers don’t seem to work. PBI does.

You are not counting the number of windows in New York City at Google, which is why Google give much more weight to performance-based questions and hands-on assessments than brain teasers.

US Dept of VA has excellent sample questions:


4 distinctive attributes that predict candidate potential at Google

  1. General cognitive ability (smart people can learn and adapt)
  2. Leadership
  3. Googliness (have fun, intellectual humor and humility)
  4. Role related knowledge (by far the least important attribute)


Empower the masses.

  1. Eliminate status symbols.
  2. Make decisions based on data, not management opinions.
  3. Find ways for people to shape their work and the company.
  4. Expect a lot.


Extrinsic motivators can shut down willingness to learn and grow.

When it comes to personal growth, intrinsic motives are hard to beat.


People hate performance reviews because they’re not always realistic.

Consider evaluating performance on everyday basis rather than doing so once a year. Managers are prone to cognitive biases such as recency and confirmation bias. Plus, the expectations and ratings are often times uncalibrated. So, calibrate the numbers across similar cohorts.


Incorporate peer feedback.

Very few companies evaluate performance linearly, let alone bottom up. After all, people who work for you and who work with you are bearing the most of you. So, make sure to consider what the peers think about the candidate.


Split performance reviews from development reviews

Don’t let the emotions from performance evaluation influence the conversation of development paths.


Google Project Oxygen – 10 Behaviors of Google’s best managers

  1. Is a good coach.
  2. Empowers team and does not micromanage.
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and welling.
  4. Is productive and results-oriented
  5. Is a good communicator – listens and shares information
  6. Supports career development and discusses performance
  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team
  8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team
  9. Collaborates across Google
  10. Is a strong decision maker


Pay attention to two tails.

Top 5% is your key contributors, the indispensables. Bottom 5% is the lagging group that needs help.


Put your best people under the microscope.

You will get more out of a single top performer than a bunch of average performers. Identify and set the rewards to give him enough reason to say.


Help those lagging behind.

Parting ways should be the last resort. Poor performance could derive from poor skills, which is fixable or the lack of will. Develop a personal improvement plan and raise their game before giving up on them.


Your best teachers are working for you.

Most organizations pay the professionals to teach while leaving more experienced employees to sit and learn. Look inward to find your best people developers and let them prosper.


Build a learning institution.

Engage in deliberate practice with small chunks and clear feedback, and invest only in courses you can prove change people’s behavior.


Celebrate experiences not compensation.

A rush of euphoria from money is short-lived. But memories on the other hand last forever.


Pay unfairly.

Have wide variations in pay that reflect the power law distribution of performance. It gives your top performers a reason to stay and push the average performers to catch up.


Reward thoughtful failure.

Rewarding a failure signal the others that failure is not only welcomed also celebrated, but check first if the effort hits the mark.


Find ways to say yes.

Make life easier for employees. The bad stuff in life happens rarely, be there when it does.


Nudge a lot.

Small signals can cause large changes in behavior. A carefully crafted email is said to improve productivity by 25% at Google.


Get on the right foot from the start – 5 Onboarding Checklist

  1. Have a role and responsibilities discussion.
  2. Match your ‘newgler’ with a peer buddy.
  3. Help your ‘newgler’ build a social network.
  4. Setup onboarding checking once a month for the first six months.
  5. Encourage open dialogue.


Help your new hires get on the right foot

Encourage them to

  1. Ask a lot of questions
  2. Schedule regular one-on-ones with your manager.
  3. Get to know your team.
  4. Actively solicit feedback, don’t wait for it.
  5. Accept the new challenge. Take risks and don’t be afraid to fail.


Find the moral in the mistake and teach it.

Admit your mistake, be transparent about it. Share it with your team so they can learn.


Go for the elite, instead of a group of averages.

Most organizations undervalue and under reward their best people without even knowing they’re doing it. Instead of a massive group of average performers dominating through sheer numbers, a small group of elite performers dominate through massive performance.


Expect failure because hard work doesn’t always payoff.

The biggest thing a commercial fisherman learnt is if you work on the wrong thing, it doesn’t matter how hard you work because it’s not going to make the difference. Even the best of us fail sometimes. What’s important is how we respond to that failure.


To measure individual collaboration, create a quarterly survey of just 2 questions:

 In the last quarter, this person helped me when I reached out to him / her.

  1. In the last quarter, this person involved me when I could have been helpful to or was impacted by his / her team work.

At Googe, every member of the team rated each other, and the anonymous ratings and rankings were shared with everyone. People knew where they fell in the ranking but didn’t know what anyone else got. The two ranked near the bottom were dismayed by it. Without any further intervention, they worked to improve their collaboration.


Managing New Hires Performance

 What are OKR (objectives and key results)? And what should your newgler’s first quarter OKRs be?

  1. How does your newgler’s roles connect with the company’s business goals and team goals?
  2. When will his or her first performance conversation be? And how will his or her ratings be determined?


If you’re managing performance well, the performance discussions will never be a surprise.

 Because you’ve had conversations all along the way, and the employee will feel your support at each step. In all cases, don’t rely solely on the manager to come up with an accurate picture of how people are doing. Solicit input from peers even if it’s as simple as asking or sending out a short questionnaire.


People operations has become a popular name for HR department.

 Dropbox, Facebook, LinkedIn, Square, Zinga and over 20 other companies have adopted the name. When asked what made them used that name, this is how they respond: “I was just regular HR we just like calling like that. A part of heart dying it that moment. Of course, people can use whatever names they want. But they’re missing an opportunity to build something different, something perhaps better. More than anything, what unites us in people operations is the vision that work doesn’t’ need to be miserable. That it can be novel, exciting and energizing. This is what drives us…”


Google doesn’t have all the answers. In fact, they have far more questions than answers.

 But they aspire to bring more insight, innovation and anticipation to Googlers and how they experience work.


Take counsel from all directions.

The higher-ups can never understand the customer without the counsel from frontline. Same way, if you’re the frontline, try consult your manager so you can think and act like one.


10 Steps to a High Freedom Environment

  1. Give your work meaning.
  2. Trust your people.
  3. Hire only people who’re better than you.
  4. Don’t confuse development with managing performance.
  5. Focus on the two tails.
  6. Be frugal and generous.
  7. Pay unfairly.
  8. Manage the rising expectations.
  9. Enjoy!


Upward Feedback Survey Questions

  1. My manager gives me actionable feedback that helps me improve my performance.
  2. My manager does not micromanage.
  3. My manager shows consideration for me as a person.
  4. My manager keeps the team focused on our priority deliverables.
  5. My manager regularly shares relevant information from his/her manager and senior leadership.
  6. My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about my career development in the past 6 months.
  7. My manager communicates clear goals for our team.
  8. My manager has the technical expertise to effectively manage me.
  9. I would recommend my manager to other Googlers.


Best Things in Life Are (Almost) Free

Program Cost to Google Cost to Googler Benefit to Google or Googlers
ATMs Free Free Efficiency
Bureaucracy busters Free Free Efficiency
talent Show Free Free Community
Holiday fairs Free Free Efficiency
Mobile libraries Free Free Efficiency
Random Lunch Free Free Community; innovation
TGIF Free Free Community
Bike repair Free Yes Efficiency
Car wash and oil change Free Yes Efficacies
Dry cleaning Free Yes Efficiency
Haircuts and salons Free Yes Efficiency
Organic crockery delivery Free Yes Efficiency
Concierge Negligible Free Efficiency
Culture Clubs Negligible Free Community
Employee Resource Groups Negligible Free Right thing to do; community; innovation
Equality in benefits Negligible Free Right thing to do
career (return to work program) Negligible Free Right thing to do; efficiency
Massage chairs Negligible Free Efficiency
Nap pods Negligible Free Efficiency
Onsite laundry machines Negligible Free Efficiency
Take Your Child to Work Day Negligible Free Community
Take Your Parent to Work Day Negligible Free Community
Talks @ Google Negligible Free Innovation
Loaner electric vehicles Modest Free Efficiency
Massage Modest Yes Efficiency
Free food High Free Community; innovation
Shuttle service High Free Efficiency
Subsidized child care High Yes Efficiency