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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Google’s Approaches for Building a Civilized Workplace

Scott Cunningham in the forum writes (link added):

Google receives two short mentions in the book, “The No Asshole Rule”, by Robert I. Sutton, PhD

The book is subtitled, “Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One that Isn’t”. I’ve only finished chapter 3, but so far the book is a good therapy for me, especially after coming out of another Bay Area company that seemed to be infested with the type.

On page 56, he mentions that Shona Brown, Google’s senior vice president for business operations, who says that the company acts on its “Don’t be evil” motto by making Google a place where it simply isn’t efficient to act like an asshole. “Efficient” is a good word choice. The second reference on page 91 basically reiterates this statement.

The things at Google that help make a difference, and keep the asshole count to a minimum are:
1) Interviews: First, candidates are scored on technical ability AND cultural fit. Second, interviews are done by a wide range of people who have little-to-no incentive to hire a person just because they can do the job. That is, there is very little downside for the interviewer to low-score a candidate for either inadequate technical ability or poor “cultural fit”, since the interviewer is rarely interviewing someone to fill a position on his/her own team.
2) Reviews: Your performance review includes visible feedback and may include invisible feedback from your peers. So, if the people you work with don’t like working with you, you could find it difficult to get a good review and/or be promoted.

These processes are not unique to Google, but they are a essential part of establishing an asshole-unfriendly work environment. And from my perspective, they seem to be working very well.

[Thanks Scott!]


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