Efficiency Tricks by Google: Doing the Basics Well!

“As a leader, a lot of your job is to make (those) people successful. It’s less about trying to be successful (yourself), and more about making sure you have good people and your work is to remove that barrier, remove roadblocks for them so that they can be successful in what they do.” – Sundar Pichai, CEO Google (SOURCE)

Management processes for everything from giving employees feedback to running effective meetings are part of the tricks of the trade that Google has shared with the world at large.

‘But these are so obvious’, you might be saying. They’re not. Reinforcing the basics and tightening up processes so that everyone in the organization is actioning them efficiently is the key to being able to get down to the real work. Google has spent a long time looking at the data from internal reviews and surveys to determine what the essential basics are that every leader, whether a mid-level manager to the COO, need to embody.

This whole philosophy at Google stems from the CEO’s down to earth leadership style: Let others succeed. “In an environment replete with formidable characters and much infighting, Pichai emerged as the nice guy who could pull teams together and get work done.” (SOURCE)

The management tools and guides that Google is sharing for free are surprisingly basic, but very useful. That said, a study conducted by a group at the Harvard Business Review looked at 12,000 companies in 34 countries, measuring 18 management practices, with interesting results as to why companies might not be engaging in these core practices, when it would be to the overall benefit of the company:

Adoption of basic processes are hindered by a lack of awareness that they are needed

If, from the highest level down to the administrative staff, there is no awareness that basic processes are even required to be efficient, it’s unlikely that new ones will be put in place. And as the aforementioned study found, there is little value in taking another company’s best practices and applying them, expecting immediate and similar success. Each organization, at every level, has to understand the need for these basic changes.

Managers often lack the skills needed to adopt the basic processes

Without some basic skills, like giving feedback constructively or supporting training and development, managers cannot hope to alter the basic processes. The Google guides provide some solid tools in these softer skills areas, with concrete tips and worksheets, note guides and more.

Example? A guide called: “Set and Communicate a Team Vision”. The guide begins with reasons why this is valuable and delves directly into a practical tool, which includes how to go about this task, with slides for a team session, and facilitator notes. All customizable but giving the manager a strong starting point to host an effective session.

Another great example is a guide called: “Coach managers to coach”. It embodies the CEO’s philosophy, with a concrete tool on holding effective 1:1 meetings. Google found that the managers who scored highly on internal surveys were also holding one on one meetings with their team members, on a regular basis. The tool gives managers everything they need, including a meeting agenda template, to be effective in this otherwise basic process.

Change management and the reluctance of many to embrace new processes

Many see these basic processes as a way for staff to be micromanaged; the notion of change is upsetting to even the most seasoned employee, and this lack of trust in the value of these processes makes reluctance to embrace them more likely.

Companies of every size can benefit from these tools, to look at best practices of a healthy, efficient company and see what and how they could work for them. The key is to recognize the need for these basics, master them and move forward.

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