Human resource management and development have always been considered as a prominent theme for investigating. Appropriate HRM and HRD practices contribute to increased profit margins and a healthy working environment. Within the scope of these practices, the Google company has demonstrated a number of significant approaches. Hence, its HR policies and the latest experience and changes in this regard might be a relevant issue to discuss.
How HRM Strategy Influences Organizational Performance of Google
Employees may be defined as a critical resource of any company that aims to remain successful and profitable in the long term. Personnel is the pivotal engine that drives business as they leverage the core elements of the firm’s system directly. Hence, it seems reasonable to claim that a human resource management strategy has a crucial role in maintaining corporations’ performance on a high level.
An appropriate HRM policy provides a firm with the opportunity to establish trust and trustworthy relationships with its staff, which leads to smooth and coherent operating and a fast decision-making process. The Google company tends to comprehend the above statements and pay attention to its HRM to a great extent. The corporation has developed a noticeable HRM strategy that serves as a foundation for its convincing market share, as well as for a healthy work environment. Google admits the fact that employees are the primary source of its success but not the leadership board or any other segment of the performance.
Google is famous for its offices, which have everything from free food to dry cleaners, from fitness centers to massage therapists; but the purpose of this is not luxury. Google’s offices do not spare resources on the main thing – providing employees with computing power and the best equipment. The company makes an accent on implementing innovations into all its spheres of its performance, and Google’s HRM strategy may be characterized as innovative and employee-oriented. It should be mentioned that there are other approaches to HRM policy according to which emphasis may be made on strict inner hierarchy or continuous alterations of staff. However, these are appropriate for small and medium-sized companies, which is not applicable to Google.
Google as a High-Performance Organization
It seems reasonable to assume that Google may be defined as a high-performance organization (HPO). It is a concept, according to which “leadership maintains trust relationships with people on all organizational levels by valuing employees’ loyalty showing people respect, creating and maintaining individual relationships with employees” (Sayle, 2015). The HPO’s policies result in notable productivity and a healthy work environment, which was confirmed by a plethora of authors (Gleeson, 2017; Sayle, 2015; Thoman and Lloyd, 2018; Vickers, 2019; Seth, 2019).
The abovementioned facts allow supposing that Google’s approach to HRM strategy contributes to the significant performance of the company. It should be mentioned that different concepts in creating an HPO contribute to an in-depth understanding of which one is the most appropriate for a company. There are plenty of peculiarities that should be taken into account while following a particular concept of HPO.
Nature and Approach to Leadership in Google
In Google, it is believed that a successful employee should not only understand his computer domain but also realize the business – how to manage the company and promote the product. Google is looking for creative and smart people – generators of ideas, curious and independent employees who are willing to take risks, work in a team, actively communicate with colleagues. Such personnel are able not only to come up with a theoretical idea but also to build a prototype; they are attentive to detail and have practical experience. These employees are not easy to manage and do not fit the classic office hierarchy, in which the last word is left to those who are higher in rank. The only possible system for them is a meritocracy, in which single ideas and arguments supported by data are valued, and it does not matter from the employee in which position they come from.
At weekly meetings of the team called “Thank God it’s Friday”, Google’s founders inform the whole company of last week’s news, product demonstrations, and new appointments (Finette, 2018). Most importantly, they answer any questions from any employee on any topic. Questions and answers are the most important part of every meeting; one can ask and discuss anything from the most trivial to the business, technical and ethical aspects.
Thousands attend these meetings in person and via video and tens of thousands watch the online replay. The advantage of such openness and transparency is that everyone in the company knows what is happening. Often, in large organizations, different departments perform excessive work, not knowing about it and only wasting money. The exchange of information allows everyone and everyone to understand the differences in the tasks facing different groups, avoiding internal rivalry.
Google leadership does a lot, not just in words but in deeds: they allow you to make changes to business processes, to a product, improve operations, and determine how to make work more convenient. They do not declare this freedom, but implement it – this is one of their corporate values, along with transparency and openness when communicating with employees at all levels. Google’s focus on innovation and cost containment means that every employee must contribute personally to the business. Google pays little attention to the corporate hierarchy; the same employee can carry out several duties. An international webmaster who creates holiday logos for Google can take a week to translate the entire site into Korean; one of the chief engineers may be a certified neurosurgeon (Investopedia, 2019). All employees believe that they are equally crucial for Google.
Significance of the Leadership Role in a High-Performance Organization
It might be supposed that the described leadership approach has a significant role in developing and sustaining a high-performance culture. Google believes that “a good leader must create a corporate culture that boosts employee with value shared” (Tran, 2017, p. 12).
Then, according to Tran (2017, p. 12), Google reflects that “the better culture is, the much more working environment is creative, innovative and competitive for a common company’s development and employee’s career development.” It should be noticed that vertical-oriented leadership with a low degree of freedom is widespread among other companies. It makes a profit and requires less effort; it is easier to lead a team that does what is said. In Google, it is claimed that the latter approach cannot result in productiveness, as well as in high performance. Thus, the company seems to find its working environment on the connection between leadership and a high degree of freedom and corporate culture.
Aims, Objectives and Practices of HRM and HRD
Google executives do not have the right to decide on a job application single-handedly. Employees are hired by a specially assembled committee in the amount of 5-10 people. Such a committee may include both top managers and future colleagues of the hired employee.
All interviews are held in turn, and all opinions are taken into account when deciding on a job. Everyone who interviewed the candidate fills out a feedback form based on its results: what questions were asked, how the person answered them, how the candidate is rated. In this form, there is also an assessment of how suitable a person is for the team – whether his or her personal qualities coincide with the culture of the company. Such an HRM approach allows hiring competent and appropriate personnel on an unprejudiced and objective basis.
Google does not have learning centers; it is evident to the company’s management that training centers, leadership academies, and other similar institutes for improving efficiency do not bring the benefits that are expected of them. It is impossible to take an average employee and, having passed through training, get a superstar. At the same time, the company welcomes the desire of employees to learn something new, whether it be a new programming language or management skills (Lombardo, 2017).
Googlers have access to a range of training programs, including professional training, online learning systems and the ability to learn from other employees as part of special programs. For example, in the development of engineers, there is quite an interesting approach: those who made a new product conduct a “tech talk” (Lau, 2015). They tell their colleagues how a specific technical problem was solved. Google also has a staff rotation program; thanks to it, employees can gain knowledge and experience in other Google offices.
The HR branch is more like a science lab than a traditional human resources department. In its work, it relies on sophisticated software that is designed to process statistics collected among employees. Its task is to form a reliable idea about every aspect of the life of Google employees. This desire to bring scientific precision to human resources policies reflects Google’s culture broadly. Most of the company’s employees are engineers who need arguments supported by numbers to change established habits. These sentiments also explain the HR department’s decision to streamline Google’s hiring process. From its early years in Silicon Valley, Google has attracted attention to the number of job interviews it took.
The described practices allow assuming the following objectives of Google’s HRM and HRD. First, the company tends to determine the interests of its employees as the primary aspect of the corporate culture. Second, it is the continuous progress of personnel in various ways, which is based on scientific evaluation. Then, the crucial aims of HRM and HRD are as follows: practicing open communication, investing in management training, identifying problems from the outset, creating space for innovation and using data where possible (Haughton, 2018).
Furthermore, Google takes pride in its Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) – employee communities that embody Google’s policy of equality and democracy. Among these are Black Googler Network, Disability Alliance, Google American Indian Network, Gayglers, Greyglers, HOLA, Inter Belief Network, [email protected], VetNet and [email protected] (Parker, 2019, pp. 28–29).
ERGs contribute to the formation of social communities that are not limited by functional and national boundaries and are effective as part of retention programs. They provide valuable feedback on the effectiveness of human resources programs and human resources policies, as well as excellent opportunities for personal growth and professional development. ERGs make it possible to make organizational dynamics smooth and coherent.
Recommendations for Improving the HRM and HRD Practices
Although Google’s HRM and HRD practices seem notable and progressive from the employees’ perspective, they might have a distinct disadvantage. Such an accent on personnel’s needs may blur the strategic business objectives of the company because staff may start focusing on rather on their interests, abandoning and separating the corporation’s ones. Thus, it seems reasonable to propose to make the HR system stricter to the exact extent. For instance, employees may be obliged to provide a weekly report-essay on the work done, referencing it to the values and aims of Google.
Changing Role of HR Function in Google
Over the last decade, Google has become quite famous for its HR approach that provides personnel with such a vast amount of opportunities and a level of freedom. Although there has been criticism regarding the above Google’s strategy (Frick, 2014), it might be supposed that it remains competitive and convincing (Pratap, 2019).
From its very foundation, the company has been dedicated to the principles of staff development, as well as providing them with the best working conditions. In this regard, there have been no substantial shifts recently – the company has never stopped claiming that its employees are the most valuable aspect of performance. It might be assumed that the notable change within the scope of HRM and HRD has taken place in the framework of increased diversity. Keeping in mind that in “more than 40 countries around the world, it [Google] has opened more than 70 offices” (Pratap, 2019), the decision to be more inclusive seems appropriate.
Ethical Approach to HR Functions
The ethical approach to HR functions in Google might be considered as the object to rather develop – not to change – due to the increasing role of diversification. It is evident from the following: “75% of Googlers have taken steps to … address their unconscious bias;” about “2,000 Googlers … have driven more than 220 projects as part of Diversity Core” (Employees & culture, n.d.). Furthermore, HRs are encouraged to work in teams and cooperate regularly. It means that the company aims to ensure an unbiased and liberal working environment. Again, it might be apparent from the recruiting approach – it is considered as the work of each employee. The HR department can coordinate the process, but everyone should contribute to it.
Personal learning, Professional Development and Practice
The Google company has created working conditions that foster and motivate constant learning. The corporation provides specific training programs regarding presentation skills, content development and management. “Free classes in foreign language and culture are also provided to Google employees” (Pratap, 2019, para. 12); these classes have been developed by engineers for engineers. It might seem that each member of Google’s staff can improve his or her professional and interpersonal skills. Thus, in the framework of HRD, the company tend to demonstrate the policy that may be characterized as long-term orientated, which contributes to the continuous flow of significant employees.
Organizational Change and Barriers
It should be noted that there has been a substantial organizational change in the recent past Google that is related to the cancellation of the 20% rule. This rule used to be perceived as an effective approach to innovation at Google (Solomon, 2016; Hill, 2018). Each Google employee had the right to devote 20% of the working time – one day per week – to third-party projects. Thanks to the described principle, such projects as Gmail, AdSense and Google Cardboard, as well as hundreds of small projects, many of which went to Open Source, took place. However, Google had a lot of small teams that had appeared due to the 20% projects. With many small start-ups inside the company, it was hard for everyone to find a logical place in the performance. Besides, the essence and purpose of some teams changed over time; hence an organizational mess took place.
Google had to focus on the improvement of old products instead of constantly rolling out the new ones to the market one after another. The flow of new offers and semi-finished iterations was appropriately considered as the way to stagnation. 20% rule was beneficial for the business at the time when it was necessary to demonstrate a breakthrough to shareholders and users, fueling market interest with newer services. Nevertheless, it was the stage that Google had already passed by the year 2013 (D’Onfro, 2015).
It might be stated that the cancellation of the 20% principle and an accent on diversification of HRM and HRD practices were the primary organizational changes of Google in the recent past. Such shifts contributed to the improved reputation and brand of an inclusive company, as well as to more consisted and organized timing. The main barrier that hinders the absolute success of Google’s organizational changes might be an over-dependency on staff’s needs and interests. Personnel is able to simply dictate their conditions that might not comply with the business strategy of Google.
Role of Leadership, Management and Development of People in Strategic Organizational Change
It seems reasonable to claim that leadership, management and development of people have significantly contributed to the organizational change of Google. According to Tran (2017), Google suggests that a good leader must create a company’s culture that boosts personnel with value shared. The latter allows assuming that efficient leadership has resulted in employees’ comprehension of the company’s fundamental values. In turn, staff development has led to an understanding of the necessity of building an unbiased and diversified team. Finally, transparent and self-assessing management accounted for admitting the fact that the 20% rule was redundant.
To conclude, Google tends to be a high-performance organization that pursues a number of significant HRM and HRD practices. The research revealed that the primary aspects of Google’s organizational changes were a greater emphasis on diversification and cancellation of the 20% rule. The company tends to pay attention to the interests and needs of its employees and provide them with a vast number of opportunities.
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