Analysis of Google's Organisational Culture using organisational behaviour theory
Category : Communication, Organizational Culture and Structure
Google’s Organisational Culture
What are the main factors/HRM procedures that have contributed to the success of Google?
Google is among the most successful Internet-based businesses and companies since the booming dotcoms years in late 1990s and remains to be a leader (2007, 2006; 2002). The success of the Google is rooted on its outstanding organisational practices and core competencies. Google’s formula of success is not only its competent technology but also its aggressive ability to come-up with both innovative and profit-oriented projects. Innovation is very critical among the members of its workforce since it operates in global environment. (2003) pointed out that managing global environment requires managers the ability to manage change through innovation and creativity. The innovative capability of Google combined with integrated process and a supportive culture creates sustainable competitive advantage. Among the considered high-leverage innovators, Google excels in ideation with overall adeptness and competence across all four stages of the innovation value chain. For example, (2007) describes Google as search engine leader that creates new-fangled ideas with intense speed or what they call the “70-20-10 Rule” where the staff particularly engineers are encouraged to use 70 percent of their working time on central business functions, 20 percent on related business functions, and 10 percent on areas entirely of their own choice. Larger organisations like Google, in contrast to small ones are faster in adoption of innovations because of greater access to resources and need for strategic planning (1995;1994). Due to the stiff competition among Internet companies, the encouragement of innovation and creativity is inherent to Google. Innovation as a ground for doing business in the 21st century will be the consistent tugging force that the organisation must either strive to adopt or suffer the consequences of being left behind by competitors. The Googlers (employees) are motivated to contribute their suggestions, ideas, or anything that pertains to potential profit-gaining activities through various means like meetings, intranet, and other forms of communication. In product development, they emphasise on the feasibility and user-friendliness of relevant ideas. The feasibility is supported by Google’s aim of coming-up with something original and financially viable whereas the idea of user-friendliness works toward potential users. Through innovations, Google has expanded its services and features. Google today is no longer a search engine company but a web computing applications company (2006). The upscale ability of Google is among its critical success factors that make it a sustainable competitive company in its specified industry.
Further, teamwork is another main factor for Google’s success. It is stated that engineers work in teams in pursuing projects. The team had complete freedom regarding their projects and the ways in which they will work on it. The concept of teamwork relies on the ability of every team player to communicate with all the members of the workplace situation. Furthermore, teamwork is also attributed to the positive effects upon the psychological health and well-being of organisations member (1999). Understanding of the importance of teamwork is limited to the group in focus, that is, Google’s engineering teams. When team forms, a “team mind” also forms through the sharing of information and pooling of knowledge (1997). The promotion of teamwork despite the absence of clear management structure among engineers and project managers is effective because of efficient process of communication among the Googlers and its upper management.
Organisational communication is also a core competency of Google. Communication within organisational context serves a number of fundamental functions (2001) as surveys focusing on areas of improvement among corporations states that it usually ranked as key element within the organization (1993). (1994) suggested that communication serves four major functions within a group or organization including control, motivation, emotional expression, and information. Googlers’ communication process is free and open. This serves as the pathway through which ideas, suggestions, and insights that would potentially generate change and new features in the system are discussed. Communication also keeps and maintains values and relationships necessary to keep the system of the united organisation. Googlers are encouraged to extend communication initiatives among various departments. Upper management including Sergey and Larry are deliberate in supporting the open communication process. Communication is evident during lunch at the cafeteria, meetings on Friday afternoons, etc. (1997) noted communication’s function in allowing employees to conduct meetings, make memos, provide feedback and share corporate-wide information. However, it is important to consider that the communication provided by the organisation is clear and consistent from within all levels. It must address both organisational and individual employee concerns. Management behaviour will influence employee behaviour more than the words included in a communication process using a particular channel. Employees assess the communication to see if the company policies, changes and other concerns meet their needs and the company as well. Furthermore, the efficient feedback system of Google exemplifies their communication process in both internal and external business environment.
On the aspect of HRM, Google has a distinct recruitment procedure that is bounded on the increased importance on valued intelligence and brainpower more than experience. (2003) identified recruiting as part of the overall management function of staffing. Conversely, (2004) emphasised that staffing requires both the process of attracting and selecting potential personnel with exceptional capabilities and competencies to fill-in the company position available at hand. Recruiting potential Googlers are based on academic proficiency and human intelligence. The diversity of skills and qualities of applicants is recognised because Google management believes that it can contribute on its progression. There are also unique advertising techniques in job postings, effective referral system, and campus recruitment. Generally, Google upholds the key HRM functions namely; attracting a quality workforce, developing a quality workforce, and maintaining a quality workforce (2002; 2001). It has been recognised that HRM is a fundamental element in an organization’s life and well-being, since its beginning, for the reason that it is considered as an important means to uphold competitive advantage ( 1990). In this emerging system of global working setting, the critical factor in production has shifted from machines and equipment to the "knowledge" worker (1991). This may be the reason why Google management pays particular attention to academic performance of its applicants. The employees are also given the opportunity to enjoy through various recreation programs and other perks. The HRM practices of Google work at some specific areas of the organization but not all, thus, some criticism are identified.
All in all, the main factors that contribute to the remarkable success of Google are: the ability to innovate, outstanding teamwork among Googlers, effective communication process, and distinctive recruitment procedures. These are the given critical success factors (CSFs) and core competencies that make up the booming organisational (i.e. financial, management, marketing, etc) performance leading to victory in its chosen area of industry.
Describe some of the negative aspects of Google’s culture. Do you think Google needs to change its culture and, if so, in what ways?
Amidst the successful reputation of Google in the Internet industry, there are few criticisms in the organisational culture of the Company. The case study presented specifies the following negative features: absence of clear management structure, poor employee relations and work ethics, and its informal work culture.
An organisation must have a core management structure. Although Google has plus as key figures, the rest of the staff are not strictly structured. Organisational management structure is a basic element in planning and decision-making (2003; 1996). On the case of project engineers and even the rest of the workforce, the unclear definition of management structure can lead to organisational conflict. Recognising the diversity of skills and Googlers, conflict is a risk because employees have differing values and experience differing situations ( 2001). The lack of hierarchy resulted to confusion about control and decision making power and practically affects overall working conditions. To address such, management theories serve as established body of knowledge that will guide the engineers and project managers in making excellent decisions for the benefit of the whole organisation. Similarly, the understanding of management structure is directly linked to enhanced organisational performance requiring Google’s management to review its organisational composition, job positions, and area of control.
On its HRM functions, Google is acknowledged with a unique recruitment process yet some aspects of the process are criticised. Some critics describes Google’s recruitment process is narrow. Companies worldwide undergo changes and utilise various job selection and recruitment methodologies (2003) due to some affecting factors (i.e. globalisation and technology innovations). For Google, there is a need to re-evaluate and study the HRM functions and policies particularly its recruitment process to meet the demands of the target market. A lot of organizations began to significantly switch their people-managing policies and systematise them in new directions (2001). It is acknowledge that selection and recruitment of potential employees, like on the case of Googlers, is directed to the attainment and accomplishment of companies’ goals in the global scene (2000). Knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) that include job-related information and the necessary human abilities to perform certain job activities (1997) should be considered by Google HR team rather than academic proficiency alone. The importance of valid KSAs cannot be overstated, as the relationship between them and individual performance in the organisation is well-established (1995, 1994). Most KSAs are gained through experience yet Google oversee this point. It is accepted that quality, competence and flexibility among the employees had efficiently replaced quantity of task accomplished and imperceptive obedience gained through extensive experience. Thus, Goggle should reconsider its recruitment and selection policies and practices.
Further, Google is also called upon its problematic employee relations and work ethics as seen on the unjust treatment of contractual employees and inefficient organisational behaviour. Around 30 percent of Google’s total employees are contractual, not given any employee benefits, and treated unfairly. To solve such problems, hiring, training, and providing pay and benefits to employees are essential tasks that must be accomplished by the organisation. For example, the 12-hour working day is arguably stressful especially when expectations are needed to be exceeded (i.e. the workloads and task requirements) among employers and employees themselves. Stress lowers the efficiency of the employees to perform their tasks. According to and (1995), in order to help organisations alleviate stress within them, they must consider the forms of stress management. The major stressors in the workplace must be properly identified and assessed, and the concerned personnel must help their employees identify their major personal sources of stress. Furthermore, the employees must be assisted in identifying their own stressors and stress tolerance levels. Before learning how to deal with stress, employees first have to identify those stressors which they react to because not everyone responds the same way to the same stressors. To aid this process, organisations might provide health risk appraisals which test for their employees' levels of stress. In general, it is suggested that organisation’s HR policies are responsive to the needs and welfare of the whole workforce. The HRM role must be proactive rather than reactive, that is, serving the employers and employees needs and welfare as directed to the achievement of competitive advantage. It should not only on the basis of attracting the best employees but taking care, developing and grooming them as organisation’s indispensable assets. As according to and (1989), the organisation’s HR personnel must understand its workforce and create organisational systems that will result to the development of human labour that works for the valuation of a larger organisational unit.
On the issue of work ethics, Googlers are branded to be arrogant at times and never kept their appointments and always turned up late for clients’ presentation. According to (2005), ethics is a moving target. Social values change over time as influenced by a composite web of factors. To solve this, the HR leader/manager is the key person that upholds the welfare, matters of concerns, as well as conditions of the entire workforce. With this given intricate set of tasks, the need to identify its overall role is imperative as it determines the scope of its managerial functions and power. The presence of strategic planning in management minimises the potential pitfalls of the said process such as uncertainty (1995; 2004). Managing workplace diversity is also a potent solution. Diversity is one of the most effective strategies that manage individuals with different characteristics who eventually create the team (2000). It seeks to address issues related to human resources, internal communications, interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, quality, productivity, and efficiency ( 2002, p2000). To solve work problems within Google working environment, the recognition of its strengths as well as it weaknesses in all areas of production is basic so as to be used as the form of practical guide for reinforcing its strengths and similarly creating potent solutions to its weaknesses.
All in all, the negative issues of Google are not yet reflected to its current organisational performance. However, it is forecasted that such negative issues are threats to its success. Its organisational culture is claimed not to be set to manage its growth. With these given negative aspects of Google, they surely have their own organisational plans and initiatives of addressing such difficulties.