Creating a Great Team Culture According to Google: Ten Action Areas to Focus On
For almost two decades, Google has been one of the leading tech companies in the world. Their unique office culture plays a big part in this success. It is also the source of many great ideas to improve company culture.
For the sixth year in a row, Google is on the top of Fortune’s list of 100 best companies to work for. This is the eighth time the tech giant has been in the number one spot. So, what makes Google one of the best team culture examples in the world?
According to Fortune, one of the things Google stands out for is the luxury perks its employees can access. For example, there are free laundry services, haircuts, and gourmet foods. But, of course, there’s a lot more to Google’s office culture than only that.
Like all other successful companies, it took Google years to figure out how to build an effective team. They’ve put in a lot of effort into fine-tuning their hiring policy. At the same time, they have worked on boosting their employees’ morale. In doing so, they’ve created a safe and inclusive office culture that even outsiders can admire.
There are many things that up-and-coming leaders can learn from Google’s example. Here we’ll take a look at the 10 ideas to improve company culture according to Google.
#1 – Have a Clear Mission Statement
You can learn a lot by reading Google’s mission statement. Titled “Ten Things We Know to Be True,” it has shaped the company from its early years. As the title suggests, it contains ten clear, on-point items that outline what Google is all about.
Sure, most of the items are by no means unique to this document. But this mission statement gets one important thing right. Namely, it answers the four key questions about the company:
- What is it that we do? (“We do search.”)
- How do we do it? (“Fast is better than slow.”)
- Who do we do it for? (“Focus on the user.”)
- What do we bring to the table? (“Help people access and use information.”)
These are the questions your mission statement should answer, too. After all, a good mission statement is essential to the success of your company. For one, it helps you set clear goals for yourself and your employees. Furthermore, it gives everyone a purpose and something to work toward.
#2 – Fine-Tune Your Hiring Process
Most companies still hire people solely based on their skills, but not Google. Each year, they receive more than a million applications, yet only a few thousand get the job in the end. That’s because they have a unique hiring policy that also tests the inventiveness of prospective employees.
The media has often ridiculed Google’s standard job interview questions. For example, “How many cars travel across a bridge each day?” Or “How would you improve a shoe factory?” And the most quoted one, “How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?”
According to Google, these questions help them recognise the candidates with a creative spark. And although this process takes a lot of time, it allows them to find the people who will be the best fit for their team. This, in turn, has helped them create one of the best team culture examples in the industry.
#3 – Improve Your HR Practices
Google also has a unique approach to HR services. They take their mission to increase employee satisfaction very seriously. To achieve that, they have created special algorithms that can track different metrics.
A few years ago, one algorithm found that women are twice more likely to leave the company than men. The HR did some research and found that it had to do with their maternity leave plans. So what did they to do change this negative trend? They gave their female employees five months of paid leave instead of the usual three. As a result, the female employee retention rate saw a 50% increase.
This scientific approach to human resources is one of Google’s best ideas to improve company culture. After all, it did help them boost employee satisfaction. It is thus no wonder that they rank so highly among the companies people want to work for.
#4 – Find Good Managers
In 2002, Google made the mistake of firing all its managers. What’s more, they hired a team of researchers to prove that managers don’t play a major role in the company. But the research showed the opposite – managers do matter.
After this debacle, they set out to discover what makes a manager great. According to Google, a good manager is a teacher with excellent communication skills. On top of that, they also have to be productive, skilled, and results-oriented.
But a good manager also needs to have the ability to come up with effective team building strategies. They achieve this by supporting their team members’ professional growth. At the same time, they also have to express concern for their people’s personal well-being.
#5 – Get Rid of Biases
In creative terms, diversity can do a lot to help a business. After all, the more different opinions there are, the more unique ideas you’ll have to work with. But it’s important to remember that each person has their own biases they have to let go of.
Over time, these biases can create serious problems in the office. For example, people may start rejecting good ideas only because they came from the people they dislike. This is another reason why it’s crucial to hire a manager. There are many things to do for team bonding that only a good manager knows.
Education also plays a major part in letting go of personal biases. That’s why Google has come up with the “Unbiasing” workshop that helps employees address these issues. What’s more, they are also licensing the programme to other organisations that want to set great team culture examples.
#6 – Work on the Team Dynamics
Google is always looking for the best office culture ideas to boost their people’s productivity. In doing so, they decided to look at what makes a successful team at their company. They found that these are the things that separate good teams from bad ones:
- The ability to take risks and not feel insecure about it.
- Depending on each other to do great work in the interest of the team.
- The ability to set very clear goals and delegate roles in an effective way.
- Finding personal importance in each project they tackle.
- Believing that the work they’re doing matters.
To be effective, team building strategies at your organisation must address these five aspects. Your people need to look out for each other and be comfortable working together. Moreover, they need to believe in your company’s vision and long-term goals.
#7 – Create an Open Atmosphere
While there are still managers that overlook teams, the atmosphere at Google is rather relaxed. Google’s mission statement talks about democracy on the internet. But the company believes that the same values should apply to the office as well.
According to Google, an open discussion is one of the most effective team building strategies. Their managers encourage their team members to speak their mind on any topic. They also nurture diversity by encouraging them to share any ideas they may have.
This usually opens up a constructive discussion. When they finally reach a decision, it has to be very data-driven. After all, Google is a tech company. As such, even those that might not like the decision will see how it can benefit the company.
#8 – Be Transparent
If you keep your employees in the dark, even the best office culture ideas may fail. Google knows this, which is why they aim to be transparent with their people. Every Friday, they hold a TGIF (“thank God it’s Friday”) meeting for all their employees.
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, the founders of Google, attend each of these meetings. They encourage employees around the world to ask any questions they may have. As a rule, no questions are out of bounds, which is another important lesson other leaders can learn.
Namely, you have to let them in on all big decisions you’re planning to make. After all, they are vital to your success and the feedback they offer may prove very useful. At the same time, you also have to trust them to do right and keep the things you discuss confidential.
#9 – Recognise Your Team’s Effort
Most great leaders talk about the importance of acknowledging their employees’ successes. Google takes things even further by rewarding them. The best employees receive The Founders’ Award, as well as company stocks. But that’s not all.
Here’s one of the best office culture ideas that you don’t get to hear that often. Reward failures, too! Larry Page explains that he wants his people to work fast and not be too cautious. “If we don’t have any of these mistakes, we’re just not taking enough risk,” he says.
In his own words, caution stifles creativity. But if you encourage people to take risks, you’ll ensure that they act on their creative impulses more often. As a result, their good ideas will help drive further growth of your organisation. This is one of Google’s best ideas to improve company culture.
#10 – Give Back to the Community
Like all great companies out there, Google contributes a lot to the community. They do this in the form of investments, as well as charitable donations. On top of that, they also share their knowledge to teach other leaders how to build a successful team.
Each year, they organise Googlefest, a free training course aimed at small businesses and nonprofits. At the event, Google’s experts teach others how to use their technology to grow their business. In doing so, they also help them to boost productivity and create a positive office culture.
But Google also sees this as one of the best culture building activities for teams at the company. After all, it gives their employees both professional and personal satisfaction. Their reward isn’t tangible. Instead of profits, they get to contribute to the society and do something good for others. This, in turn, gives them the motivation to continue doing great work for the company.
As you can see, Google takes office culture very seriously. Over the years, they’ve figured out how to build a championship culture. What’s more, they are willing to share it with other leaders and their organisations.
There are many important things to consider here. Your company needs clear and achievable goals. You also have to adjust your hiring policies to make sure you get the people who believe in your vision. Then you need to educate them how to work together and deliver great results as a team.
Take these ideas to improve company culture in your organisation. You’ll create a happy workplace and nurture your employees’ creativity. This will enable them to do good work and help your company grow.