According to Fortune and All Business magazines, Google is the fourth-most admired company in the United States. Google was also listed as the top company to work for in both 2007 and 2008. The main reason for this employee admiration is Google’s cross-functional organizational structure, which the company maintains though stellar leadership and innovative management techniques.
Founded in 1998 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google has always operated on the motto, “Don’t be evil.” This moral code helps to guide employees because Google only holds them accountable to management to a degree. To keep the spirit of innovation the company was founded on, Google employees are mostly accountable to themselves. They have the freedom to spend 70 percent of their time on current assignments, 20 percent on related projects of their choosing, and 10 percent on new projects in any area they desire.
The “70-20-10 rule” represents a managerial guideline, but it also authorizes the employees to take risks. Google executives encourage employees and managers to work directly with each other, instead of through more formal channels. The executives work closely with employees and other departments in a form of cross-functional management. Google’s open communication contributes to the organizational structure and their idea policy is one of the most substantial managerial features. It gives the staff a sense that they contribute to the company’s business objectives.
Instead of setting goals for them, Google’s management helps their employees meet the objectives that the employees set for themselves. The company sees its managers as leaders who facilitate inspiration and empower employees. Google’s management function controls employee responsibility in similar way to the United States government, through a series of checks and balances. All employees set out and evaluate goals on a quarterly basis. Although Google’s management makes suggestions, employees use metrics that they choose themselves to measure their progress toward their goals. Supervisors act as managers to ensure that the employees meet their own goals, but employees see them as leaders because the employees themselves set the benchmarks.
The company’s leadership allows employees to change the parameters of their jobs when needed. Employees are encouraged to be their own leaders, evaluate their jobs and then propose better ways to do their jobs. Google’s leaders want their employees to “think out loud,” and have open discussions about their goals and plans for achievement. The structure promotes corporate transparency because employees are able to witness and contribute to the leadership function. As a result, almost every employee has access to almost any managerial meeting. Google’s management realizes that every employee has a stake in the company and employees in turn feel a responsibility for the outcome of the company’s projects.
Google’s methods attract top talent because their management focuses on controlling through shared vision. Where many company’s have bureaucratic and linear controls, Google allows employees to set and maintain their own standards. These open policies translate into a distinctive corporate structure that inspires good nature and guidance. Employees love to work at Google, but not just because of perks such as flexible work time and bonuses, they also love the work that comes from the cross-functional leadership structure.
- process flow image by Christopher Hall from Fotolia.com