6 work rules from laszlo bock
By lindsey sine in Culture
Former Senior Vice President of People Operations at Google, Laszlo Bock, was on hand in New Orleans on Monday with a message for the HR industry, “You actually have the hardest jobs in business,” Bock said. “The reality is our jobs are tough. Our jobs are brutal.”
In his time at Google, Bock steered the company towards accolades like being named the #1 Best Company to Work for in the U.S. seven times, and he helped to grow the employee headcount from 6,000 to 75,000. And while the crowd at SHRM appreciated his understanding of the challenges HR leaders today face, it was the best-selling author and advisor’s six “Work Rules,” that were the real message listeners took from Bock.
1) Give your work meaning
“We spend more time working than we do anything else in our life. Our jobs are all consuming and it’s a little crazy,” Bock said. And he’s right. It’s no secret that people spend a majority of their lives in the workplace. But there’s a key element that HR leaders can insert into the day-to-day to make employees happier: Purpose. Purpose is critical to an individual’s wellbeing, and can be a game changer when it comes to how an employee feels about their work. Give an employee a sense of purpose and you’ll find they’re more productive, engaged and chances are you’ll see positive outcomes in your turnover rates.
2) Trust your people
“If you give people freedom… they will repay you by being more productive and effective,” Bock said. “You want to give people a little more freedom than you are comfortable with.” It’s true. No one likes being on a leash, and trusting employees can have a huge impact on both the employee’s wellbeing, as well as the overall performance of your company. And more than that, showing an employee you trust them can do amazing things for an employee’s sense of confidence. Let people spread their wings, jump in with the assist only when it’s needed, and reap the benefits of happy, productive employees.
3) Hire people who are better than you
According to Bock, you should always hire people that are better than you. But that advice also came with a strong warning. “Interviewing is not necessarily predictive of performance,” he said, adding that employers need to remove confirmation bias from the hiring process. In order to do this he advised that one should never let a hiring manager make a hiring decision because they are susceptible to both personal bias and pressure from the outside. According to Bock, a hiring committee that doesn’t include any direct coworkers of the open is essential in the hiring process, adding that if confirmation bias is removed from hiring, there are only benefits to be reaped. “If you hire better than your competitors then you win over time,” he said.
4) Pay “unfairly”
This isn’t as strange as it sounds. Bock’s assessment is that you shouldn’t over-negotiate salaries. Instead, perhaps you should pay candidates even more than what they are worth, lest you find yourself in the dust of whatever company they land at. His example: imagine a world where Microsoft offered a college-aged Mark Zuckerberg more than his perceived worth at the time. His final word on the matter: unless you do this your competitors are going to keep picking off your best people. And you want to keep those people because they make all the difference in your business success.
5) Nudge… a lot
What’s nudging? It’s simple. Ask yourself: can you make small changes in someone’s environment to make them behave better, but without forcing any actions on them. Bock’s time at Google was a masterclass on nudging, and one of his most amazing examples of this technique is a simple email that made new employee “fully productive” in six months, as opposed to nine. After months of trying different techniques to increase productivity in new hires, Bock found that new hires were still struggling. These employees had a number of things in common, from not having a working computer on day one of the job, to not meeting coworkers early on in their time at the company. The answer? And email to the new employee listing a handful of key ‘to-dos’ including tips like “If you don’t have a working computer, ask for one,” and “set up a one-on-one with your boss.” An additional email stating the same tips went to the new hire’s manager, and before they knew it, they cut three months off an employee productivity lag.
6) Enjoy… then go back to the beginning and start again.
This is the most simple of the tips, but perhaps also the hardest. “We can fight and work and slog through our jobs… we can do nothing and it’s going to stay the same,” Bock said. “It starts every single day with every single one of you.”