Thursday, April 23, 2015

How To Create An Amazing Workplace In 5 Simple Steps

Want your company or organization to amaze people? "Google" it!

For 6 years Google has ranked #1 on Fortune's list of 100 Best Companies to Work For. This is not a mistake. They've earned it through their empowerment leadership style and years of tweaking what works.
Google's history is a familiar story of a garage start-up from the 90s whose founders dropped out of school to pursue their disruptive idea. Pooling together all of the funds they could find they set out to change the Internet - and did it.

Today the company provides seemingly endless opportunities for their employees to implement smart ideas by engaging in a people strategy that goes beyond the standard "you have a job with benefits and great pay" mentality that some companies still have. They go above and beyond for their employees and as a result their employees go above and beyond for the company and its clients. 

Simple, right?

Google's SVP of People Operations Laszlo Bock recently published "Work Rules!: Lessons From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead" where he provides insights on why the inmates should run the asylum, how culture eats strategy for breakfast, and ways Google staffs its super talented machine. This article isn't a Bock commercial, but I thought it fitting to mention his book in light of what I'm about to say.

So how does a company go from people management to people amazement in 5 simple steps?

It's quite simple really. "Google" your environment and get there one step at a time.


[STEP 1] Insist On Autonomy

I don't know many self-assured professionals who like to be told what to do let alone how to do it. Autonomy is a trait that human beings begin to nurture by the time we turn 2 years old. Sure there are times when individuals may need additional guidance or adjustments in order to deliver the desired work products. However, if you've selected the right talent then there's no need to hover. 

Let employees do their jobs their way as long as they deliver. Stand back and watch them create magic for you with their natural talents and unique skills. Google recruits Class-A talent with the expectation that they will fully and autonomously act on their creative ideas to make the company amazing - and they do.


[STEP 2] Nurture Innovation

In my experience creativity and innovation are not timed events. The best solutions come to me when I'm not focused on work or on anything in particular. Answers come at random times like first thing in the morning when I wake up or when I'm at the grocery store or driving down the highway. I keep a pen and pad (or an iPad) handy to catch the waves of insight as they come. 

Make space for innovation to occur in its own time throughout the work day. Google's 70-20-10 approach is an example of making room. Employees are encouraged to work on off-budget projects and personal interests to keep their creative energy flowing. Your employees will be amazed when you allow them to "play" during their working hours.


[STEP 3] Reward Generously

News last week highlighted a decision by Gravity Payments Founder Dan Price to set the minimum wage for his employees at $70,000. He took a pay cut from his $1,000,000 salary to make it happen. While this may seem like a crazy gesture or publicity stunt it's actually quite brilliant. Reportedly Price based his assessment on a Princeton study that noted ~$70,000 as the "feel good" salary.

...Technology companies that hire the smartest young people around all but guarantee themselves a high churn rate. A lack of employer loyalty is a defining feature of Generation Y... [i]


On the other hand Google's average salary is $107,000 yet their average tenure has been estimated at less than 1 year. The market for the most creative minds is fierce and these minds exercise their free will to roam frequently. Regardless of what may happen in the future reward generously those who are making it happen for you today.


[STEP 4] Remove Roadblocks

Remove every single stumbling block so that the work you're paying for can actually get done. Unnecessary bureaucracy, unclear accountability, and lack of urgency kill momentum and creativity - and ultimately kill revenue. The most innovative and creative employees will find a way around or through any roadblocks that have been set up, but why make the additional maneuvers necessary in the first place? 

Time spent is time that can't be regained. Don't waste time with roadblocks. Google's leadership works to remove bureaucratic and lifestyle barriers so their employees can act decisively on the ideas that they come up with. Remove your roadblocks and step back to be amazed by the focus and attention that you get from your empowered employees.


[STEP 5] Allow Napping on the Job

Since Arianna Huffington published her book "Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder" companies and countries around the world have taken notice that employee well-being is critical for bottom lines and GDPs. The knowledge economy requires more creativity than brute force productivity to get results. Leaders who recognize this and take action to better care for their human assets will remain out front while others will quite literally burn out. 

Follow Google's or Huffington's example. Build "nap pods", "sleep rooms", or human recharging stations to allow time and space for quick power naps throughout the day. Watch as your employees are amazed at your commitment to their well-being and will clamor to do more for you in the time that they are awake.


...Imagine being in a meeting with someone and suddenly realizing, "Oh, wait, we need to stop here; I'm only at 10% - I need to take a nap and recharge...
Arianna Huffington, Thrive [ii]


Technology, robots, and all other really cool things that are coming on-line today wouldn't be possible without the millions of human minds who have or who are giving their substance throughout their life spans. Inspiring a little amazement in the workforce will go a long way to unlocking even more creative potential.
"Google" and amaze your workforce in 5 simple steps - one step at a time...
  • [STEP 1] Insist On Autonomy
  • [STEP 2] Nurture Innovation
  • [STEP 3] Reward Generously
  • [STEP 4] Remove Roadblocks
  • [STEP 5] Allow Napping on the Job

What are some other ways to amaze people at work?

Thanks for reading my latest article! Comment, like, or share and let's see how many more amazing ideas we can come up with.

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