What We Can Learn from Google … the Company, Not the Search Engine!

There aren’t a lot of 15-year-old companies with the impact Google has had on us all. I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t get through a day without Googling something. Who am I kidding?--it is more like an hour! Not only is Google a tremendous business success, it has stayed true to what the founders believed, and because of those beliefs; it has built a strong corporate culture.

Of course, there is no perfect organization or perfect culture, but I really admire how Google has gone about building a successful company. A year or so after they started the business, they came up with “Ten Things we Know to be True.” Every so often they revisit the list and revise if needed, and on their website they challenge us, their customers, to hold them to this list. Here it is:

· Focus on the user and all else will follow.
· It’s best to do one thing really, really well.
· Fast is better than slow.
· Democracy on the web works.
· You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer.
· You can make more money without doing evil.
· There is always more information out there.
· The need for information crosses all boundaries.
· You can be serious without a suit.
· Great just isn’t good enough.

I’d like to focus on “You can be serious without a suit.” How does that resonate with you? Do you think employees have to dress a certain way or their offices have to look a certain way for them to be productive? Your beliefs may not be contributing as much to developing a positive culture as you think. Google says, ”We put great stock in our employees--energetic, passionate people from diverse backgrounds with creative approaches to work, play and life. Our atmosphere may be casual, but as new ideas emerge in a café, or at a team meeting, or at the gym, they are traded, tested, and put into practice with dizzying speed--and they may be the launch pad for a new product destined for worldwide use.” And no one wears a suit!

Last year their stock reached over $1,000 a share, and since all employees are stockholders, this was quite a moment. Rather than focusing on the dollar value, the leadership urged Googlers (employees) to be “audacious in philanthropy.” Google donates $50 to a recognized charity for every five hours employees volunteer to that charity. This kind of “good citizenship” means that employees are very proud of where they work, which contributes to their strong corporate culture.

Once again in 2014, Google was number one on the Fortune 100 Best Places to Work list. That is no accident. Employees feel empowered and valued, and they know they have some of the best benefits an organization can offer.

You are probably thinking “all this is well and good, but my organization isn’t Google,” and you would be right. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t do some of the things they do. Hire the best people, develop their potential, listen to them, reward them to the best of your ability, and respect them for who they are and what they bring to your organization.

Something to think about--if your employees were asked to describe your organization’s culture, what words would they use? Why not ask, take what you hear, and build on it!


1 comment ()

1. Vernice Davis wrote:
I love casual attire but notice that I am treated better by most people I encounter (in and outside of the office) when I wear a suit. Is it just me?

June 10, 2014 @ 6:24 PM

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