Google Management Insights: About Personnel Matters No Less

June 16, 2022

Google is an interesting company. Should we survive Palantir Technologies’ estimate of a 30 percent plus chance of a nuclear war, we can turn to Alphabet Google YouTube to provide management guidance. Keep in mind that the Google has faced some challenges in the human resource, people asset department in the past. Notable examples range from frisky attorneys to high profile terminations of individuals like Dr. Timnit Gebru. The lawyer thing was frisky; the Timnit thing was numbers about bias.

Google’s CEO Says If Your Return to the Office Plan Doesn’t Include These 3 Things You’re Doing It Wrong. It’s All About What You Value” provides information about the human resource functionality of a very large online advertising bar room door. Selling, setting prices, auctioning, etc. flip flop as part of the design of the digital saloon. “Pony up them ad collars, partner or else” is ringing in my ears.

The conjunction of human resources and “value” is fascinating. How does one value one Timnit?

What are these management insights:

First, you must have purpose. The write up provides this explanatory quote:

A set of our workforce will be fully remote, but most of our workforce will be coming in three days a week. But I think we can be more purposeful about the time they’re in, making sure group meetings, collaboration, creative brainstorming, or community building happens then.

Okay, purpose seems to be more organized. Okay, in the pre Covid era why did Google require multiple messaging apps? What about those social media plays going way back to Orkut?

Second, you must be flexible. Again the helpful expository statements appear in the write up:

At Google, that means giving people choices. Some employees will be back in the office full time. Others will adopt a hybrid approach where they work in the office three days a week, and from home the rest of the time. In other cases, employees might choose to relocate and work fully remotely for a period of time.

Flexibility also suggests being able to say one thing and then changing that thing. How will Googlers working in locations with lower costs of living? Maybe pay them less? Move them from one position to another in order to grow or not impede their more productive in office colleagues? Perhaps shifting a full timer to a contractor basis? That’s a good idea too. Flexibility is the key. For the worker, sorry, we’re talking management not finding a life partner.

Third, you must do something with choice. Let’s look at the cited article to figure out choice:

The sense of creating community, fostering creativity in the workplace collaboration all makes you a better company. I view giving flexibility to people in the same way, to be very clear. I do think we strongly believe in in-person connections, but I think we can achieve that in a more purposeful way, and give employees more agency and flexibility.

Okay, decide, Googler. No, not the employee, the team leader. If Googlers had choice, some of those who pushed back and paraded around the Google parking lot, would be getting better personnel evaluation scores.

Stepping back, don’t these quotes sound like baloney? They do to me. And I won’t mention the Glass affair, the overdosed VP on his yacht, or the legal baby thing.

Wow. Not quite up to MIT – Epstein grade verbiage, but darned close. And what about “value”? Sort of clear, isn’t it, Dr. Gebru.

Stephen E Arnold, June 16, 2022


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