Challenges Google is facing
Decreasing autonomy of employees
To understand the depth of the issue, it is important to apply certain theories. Self-determination theory (SDT) is one of the most effective theories to evaluate the challenges the company is facing. Thus, extensive research shows that two types of motivation exist: controlled and autonomous (Deci & Ryan 2008). Researchers stress that some people are motivated by the ability to work autonomously and enjoy significant freedom and flexibility while completing tasks. They feel frustrated when they are told how exactly to complete tasks or each of their steps is supervised and needs certain endorsement. These employees’ performance improves when they get autonomy. At the same time, some employees may need certain guidance and, hence, their performance improves when their decisions and activities are supervised (Deci & Ryan 2008). Having a lot of freedom makes such employees feel unconfident and frustrated as they are afraid of making mistakes or taking up too much responsibility. Employees having different types of motivation should work in quite different settings.
In Google, where entrepreneurial values are integrated into the company’s culture, the majority of employees need autonomy as they choose to join the organization for its flexibility and entrepreneurial nature (Snell, Morris & Bohlander 2015). Bureaucratization of processes leads to increased control and supervision. Therefore, flexibility is often lost. This process can be acceptable for people who seek for controlled motivation but it is a reason to leave or underperform for those who need autonomy. It is essential to evaluate employees in terms of the type of motivation they need. This will enable HR professionals to develop proper performance management strategies. Understanding that people need different degrees of autonomy is essential for Google’s HR professionals and leaders. The process of team creation should include the evaluation of employees’ types of motivation. It will be easier to supervise the work of such teams as the necessary amount of autonomy can be given. The atmosphere in the workplace will improve, as employees will be more satisfied with their work.
Apart from SDT, an ethical approach should also be applied to understand the nature of the challenge in question. Torrington et al. (2014) claim that the application of ethical theories enables managers to choose the most efficient strategy that is consistent with the company’s culture. Since Google still focuses on creativity and entrepreneurial values, the consequential approach should be applied. It is important to focus on the result of the strategies utilized rather than duties or particular values of employees. The strategies developed in terms of this ethical approach will be accepted favorably in Google where creativity and the result are seen as priorities. Importantly, employees who need less autonomy (and who often focus on the duty) will also adopt the culture based on consequentialism as they will see benefits of supervision and will also focus on the result.
Leadership in Google
As has been mentioned above, the company is growing rapidly and new facilities are opening in many countries of the world. Leadership is affected significantly by these changes and many Googlers admit that the leadership strategies used in the company are ineffective and even harmful (Snell, Morris & Bohlander 2015). Employees report that they start feeling a lot of pressure as leaders are often using autocratic leadership styles, which are inconsistent with the organization’s culture and employees’ views on leadership. Core self-evaluation theory and SDT can help understand the nature of the challenge the organization is facing.
Joo, Jeung and Yoon (2010) state that employees differently evaluate their features and this process is referred to as core self-evaluation. For instance, employees evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, their needs and aspirations, their performance and capacity. The core self-evaluation has a significant impact on employees’ motivation. It can help Googlers to understand what they expect from the company and whether they can use their skills and experience to the fullest. This understanding will increase Googler’s job satisfaction.
Leaders have to employ the theory when developing performance management strategies. Of course, in many cases, people can employ only one leadership style (the one that is consistent with their core self-evaluation) but leaders in Google are often chosen to run a project or be in charge of a group (Snell, Morris & Bohlander 2015). Hence, the theory of core self-evaluation has to be applied when choosing leaders who should understand the needs and capacity of the team members. It can be important to choose leaders whose features (as evaluated by them) can be effectively employed when working on and supervising particular projects (Hocine & Zhang 2014). Leaders will also choose team members whose skills, qualities and anticipations are consistent with the peculiarities of the project. This will positively affect the atmosphere in the working place and employees’ job satisfaction.
SDT is closely connected with the theory mentioned above. At the same time, it enables to better understand employees’ needs when it comes to their motivation and performance. Leaders should understand that some employees may need supervision while others need autonomy. This can be quite easily acknowledged with the help of core self-evaluation. Leaders have to develop their performance management strategies based on this evaluation. Of course, the vast majority of strategies will imply significant autonomy of employees, but it is also important to develop strategies implying more supervision. These strategies can be applied to different teams, departments or individuals. This will make the performance of Googlers more efficient. Importantly, HR professionals have to work on the development of different leadership strategies to fit different motivation styles. The company should not simply leave leaders to develop their strategies as this may result in inefficient leadership, which is now apparent.
Another theory that will be beneficial for understanding of the peculiarities of the challenges Google faces is the theory of knowledge sharing. Foss et al. (2009) stress that this theory is especially effective when applied to the development of performance management strategies and leadership. Such multinationals as Google are affected by cultural diversity. Thus, leadership strategies efficient in one area can be ineffective in other locations. Methods that have been developed in the USA (and have proved to be highly efficient) may only partially be successful (or unsuccessful) in other countries.
At the same time, many ‘universal’ strategies (those that can be applied in many settings) are developed by the company’s employees. Of course, the implementation of the theoretical framework mentioned above will be beneficial for all locations. In this case, knowledge sharing will enable leaders to acquire the necessary skills to develop proper strategies. Leaders should know the benefits and disadvantages of certain methods. They should also understand that there are favorable or inappropriate settings, so-to-speak, for implementation of this or that strategy. The use of the theories mentioned in this paper will help Google’s top managers, leaders, HR professionals to understand the characteristic features of each location. Googlers’ anticipations can be met when developing leadership strategies based on extensive research with the use of SDT, core self-evaluation theory and knowledge sharing theory.
Besides, consequentialism should also be utilized when considering leadership. In Google, some leaders focus on the result, but they tend to stress the importance of duty and ethical behavior. This often puts employees in strict boundaries and those who need autonomy leave the organization. Google’s leaders provide certain timelines and particular steps to undertake. Their motivation strategies are also based on the principle of duty rather than the outcomes of actions and decisions. However, this is inconsistent with the culture of the organization. Leaders should apply consequentialism and think about the benefits and outcomes of each of their decisions rather than try to force employees to act in certain ways.
On balance, it is possible to state that Google is now facing two major challenges due to its rapid expansion. These challenges are decreasing the autonomy of employees and ineffective leadership that negatively affect the performance of employees and the entire organization. These processes violate the central principles of Google’s operations: creativity and flexibility. The company is losing its entrepreneurial culture that makes it one of the most attractive organizations to work at and collaborate with. It is possible to apply a set of theories to understand the peculiarities of these challenges. The following theoretical frameworks can be employed: self-determination theory, core self-evaluation theory, theory of knowledge sharing and consequentialism. The frameworks reveal core issues to be solved to address the challenges. The company needs to pay more attention to the evaluation of employees’ needs and features of character. Google’s leaders should understand that people need different degrees of autonomy and supervision of teams, as well as individuals, should be held accordingly. Another serious issue for leadership in the organization is the lack of effective knowledge sharing. Googlers working in different locations should share their views on leadership and create effective strategies. This will help to develop and implement efficient motivation strategies as well as achieve the necessary level of autonomy of every employee. This will lead to the reestablishment of the true entrepreneurial nature of Google, which will lead to improved performance. This will also help to solve such issues as a high level of turnover and problems associated with staffing.
Deci, EL & Ryan, RM 2008, ‘Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains’, Canadian Psychology, vol. 49, no. 1, pp. 14-23.
Foss, NJ, Minbaeva, DB, Pedersen, T & Reinholt, M 2009, ‘Encouraging knowledge sharing among employees: how job design matters’, Human Resource Management, vol. 48, no. 6, pp. 871-893.
Hocine, Z & Zhang, J 2014, ‘Autonomy support: explaining the path from leadership to employee creative performance’, Open Journal of Social Sciences, vol. 2, no. 1, pp. 417-423.
Joo, BKB, Jeung, CW & Yoon, HJ 2010, ‘Investigating the influences of core self-evaluations, job autonomy, and intrinsic motivation on in-role job performance’, Human Resource Development Quarterly, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 353-371.
Snell, S, Morris, S & Bohlander, G 2015, Managing human resources, Cengage Learning, Boston.
Torrington, D, Hall, L, Taylor, S & Atkinson, C 2014, Human resource management, Pearson Education Limited, Harlow.