HR chief of Google reveals the management trick its bosses use to get the most out of employees
Google is known for encouraging employees to set stretch goals, and for expecting that they might not always get all the way there.
At the same time, Google managers don’t simply accept failure and move on. In fact, they spend as much time discussing projects that went wrong as they do talking about successful initiatives.
That’s according to Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of people operations. Bock recently spoke with Kris Duggan, CEO of software company BetterWorks, about goal-setting at Google.
“We spend probably an equal amount of time actually talking about failure” and planning for future success, Bock said of managers’ conversations with employees.
Bock cited Jeff Huber, former SVP of Google X: “He spends 50% of his staff meeting on what failed last week and what did we learn from it? So by making conversation about misses normal, you end up actually driving lots of improvement in the organization.”
Linda Hill, a professor at Harvard Business School, has voiced support for this strategy of addressing failures head-on.
As she told the Harvard Business Review, “Hold people accountable. You can’t say, ‘Gee, that’s too bad.’ You need to figure out what went wrong and why.”
At the same time, Hill said that leaders shouldn’t dwell on their team’s mistakes: “Do the diagnosis, get the learning, and move on,” she told the Review.
Whether you’re working at Google or elsewhere, the point is that you shouldn’t shy away from talking about employees’ failures. If you address them in a way that’s constructive, it’ll be an experience everyone learns and grows from.
By, Shana Lebowitz