Review: Work Rules!

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead
Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a really interesting book, they take the HR concept and expand it into being everything to help the people side of the bussiness work more efficient. The results sound simple, by the challenge is how to apply them for which the book gives some stories including things which go bad as well as things which go well.

1. Give your work meaning
We all want our work to matter. Nothing is a more powerful motivator than to know that you are making a difference in the world.

2. Trust your people
The book highlights that if you feel like a founder then you will be more invested into the work, you will want everything to improve and you will feel empowered to get things changed. If you trust people to want to make things better then you have to make space and support to allow them to do it. Additionally if you trust people then you should not be afraid to share information with them. By simply sharing data and being transparent performance improves. The book has the point “Give people slightly more trust, freedom, and authority than you are comfortable giving them. If you’ve not nervous you haven’t given them enough.”

3. Hire only people who are better than you
People are the most important part of your bussiness. Without them you have nothing. Peoples abilities are not a normal distribution, it is a power-law as such the best performers perform dis-proportionally better.

4. Don’t confuse development with managing performance
Personal development is key to improving your workforce, however if this is ties into performance management then people shut down to constructively improving things. It is only possible for people to be receptive to development if there is no consequence on pay etc.

5. Focus on the two tails
Focus on the worst performing 5%, by helping them they might be able to become average employees. If they continue to struggle then they either the position or the company which is not the right fit for them. Study your top performers and see what they are doing which others can learn from – get them to teach others, if they teach they reflect on their own work and can actually learn from themselves as well.

6. Be frugal and generous
There are many things which companies can provide with no cost to the company but help the employees hugely – e.g. a barbers van, which saves the people time outside of work, or speakers which just generally require a space to present. However there are times when people need support, such as the birth of a baby or the death of a partner – at these times the company should be generous to support during these times.  Celebrate success with gifts and experiences as people will remember them longer.

7. Pay unfairly
The benefit from your top performers dis-proportionally more than the average so you should pay people based on the value they add.

8. Nudge
There are ways to get more of what you want, e.g. aiding new starters get up to speed quicker by giving the manager a checklist. Use data, surveys and checklists to get the improvements you are looking for.

9. Manage the rising expectations
The more you give the more people expect, but when you are trying things out brand them as temporary or as a trial so that you set the expectations and people know what to expect and to know that things don’t last forever.

10. Enjoy! And then go back to Number 1 and start again

The challenge to all of these is that things might go wrong – this is a risk that they knowingly make and although things do go wrong the amount of good far out weighs that. The book spends a long time talking about culture and that what you do should reflect your values.

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