Google’s Former Head of HR Issues a Warning About Culture

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All Business Owners and Leadership Teams Should Read

Culture matters, now more than ever. Laszlo Bock shares three reasons the timing has never been better to invest in your organization’s culture.

Culture influences decisions, and decisions make or break businesses.

This was the message Laszlo Bock shared in his latest LinkedIn post. He also issued a warning to organizations that are deciding whether or not to invest in corporate culture.

“Failures of culture have been the single biggest destroyers of value in the last five years,” he wrote.

Bock understands the importance of culture more than most. The former senior vice president of people operations at Google helped build the organization into the behemoth it is today. Throughout his 10-year career (2006 to 2016), he grew Google’s workforce from 6,000 to 76,000 employees. And no, it wasn’t about the free food, lava lamps, and beanbags, if you ask him. It was about making work a little more enjoyable and productive each day.

Bock backed up his advice with some pretty good examples of culture gone wrong. The Wells Fargo dummy accounts and the Volkswagen emissions scandals are just a couple. I can think of a myriad of others, including Facebook’s privacy issues and Johnson & Johnson’s recent opioid indictment.

In all these cases, you could argue that a lack of clear values, ethics, and core principles led these organizations astray.

Don’t let it get to that point. Invest in corporate culture now.

In addition to the extreme cases above and the numerous reports showing tangible benefits of great cultures, here are Bock’s three reasons why culture should matter to your organization now.

  1. The internal is now external.

Long gone are the days when “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.” With social media and numerous apps for online company ratings, employees can air your dirty laundry with the click of a button.

You may not be concerned if a disgruntled employee leaves; however, you will be when their review prevents other talented prospects from applying.

With the company’s doors now open to the public, organizations need to monitor and invest in their internal brand just as much as their external.

My favorite quote on the subject comes from former Campbell’s Soup CEO Doug Conant, who famously turned around the once-failing food manufacturer: “To win in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace.”

  1. The data on culture shows clear economic impact. 

Building the business case for corporate culture used to be fuzzy. Now, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of reports quantifying the bottom-line impact of healthy cultures.

One of my favorite examples came from Bock’s book Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead​. In it, he highlighted one of his team’s pilot projects to improve new employee assimilation. With what he refers to as a “nudge,” (a.k.a. a reminder, prompt, or suggestion) his team was able to decrease the time it took for new employees to be productive.

The nudge, which came in the form of an email reminder to managers, resulted in new employees becoming competent in their roles 25 percent faster than other employees. In it were cultural considerations like transparency, open communication, networking, and quality time with managers. Pretty good results for a simple culture change, if you ask me.

  1. People technology has advanced enough to help.

With the introduction of employee engagement, pulse, and satisfaction surveys, organizations can get a better understanding of what their employees are experiencing, and gather ideas to help improve their working conditions and productivity.

Also, with the introduction of artificial intelligence and natural language processors, underlying sentiment can be identified and addressed before issues escalate.

Your organization no longer needs to guess or experiment with culture change. Ask your employees; they will tell you what they need.

Culture is not just a buzzword anymore. With the evolution of the workplace, organizations have to leverage cultural strategies now to drive organizational alignment, foster ethical/risk-averse behavior, and, as a result, positively impact the bottom line through increases in productivity.


The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not those of

Original Source: Inc. Magazine

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