Work Rules!

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Work Rules! is written by Google’s head of human resources. The book talks about company culture and how to empower employees, performance management systems used at Google and how to hire best talent and reward high performing employees. There are many similarities between Facebook and Google, I wanted to understand the thinking behind some of our internal processes by learning more about Google’s HR. Here are some bits I found interesting:

  • Most assessment occurs in the first three to five minutes of an interview with the remaining time being spent confirming that bias
  • It’s impossibly difficult to take an average performer and through training turn them into a superstar. There are examples of people who were mediocre performers and went on to greatness, though most of those successes are a result of changing the context or type of work.
  • We now prefer to take bright, hardworking student who graduated from the top of her class at a state school over an average Ivy League grad.
  • People usually live up to your expectations, whether those expectations are high or low.
  • What managers miss is that every time they give up a little control, it creates a wonderful opportunity for their team to step up, while giving the manager herself more time for new challenges.
  • If you set a crazy, ambitious goal and miss it, you’ll still achieve something remarkable.
  • Normal distribution is popular because it describes the distribution of many things: height, weight, extroversion and introversion etc. However, human performance follows a power law distribution for most jobs. A small group of elite performers dominate through massive performance.
  • We have many cases where people at more “junior” levels make far more than average performers at more “senior” levels.
  • If you work on the wrong thing, it doesn’t really matter how hard you work, because it’s not going to make a difference.
  • Work consumes at least one-third of your life, and half your waking hours. It ought to be more than a means to an end.
  • A bad hire is toxic, not only destroying their own performance, but also dragging down the performance, morale, and energy of those around them.

The book contains many anecdotes from Google that are interesting. It also illustrates how analytical and data driven even Google’s HR department is. I’d recommend it if you’re interested in scaling up a growing company or want to learn more about HR processes in tech companies.

September 28, 2015



sarp centel

Sarp is a software developer. He writes about technology, books and software.
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