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‘Rules’ in Need of Adjustment

November 18, 2015

I just finished reading Laszlo Bock’s ‘Work Rules’ and while I can’t say there’s anything wrong with the book I definitely think it needs an attitude adjustment.51Df4YVLvbL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Bock is Google’s head of People Operations, which is an advanced version of what most people would know as human resources. Like many hi-tech firms, Google feels HR is an outdated term and doesn’t really explain what the department does. In truth, at least at Google, the department does a lot more than traditional HR departments.

But that’s really part of the problem. Bock presents a myriad of suggestions  for managing, promoting, recruiting and measuring employees or potential employees. Many of the procedures were developed at the company using statistical models developed by Google and all are presented as a common sense logical alternative to the way  other firms operate. A common refrain is simply “why would you do it any other way?”

This rationale comes despite that fact that the new procedures represent significant changes from the way Google used to do things, which were also supposedly based on statistical models and were  logical conclusions to the way things should be done.

Old methodology which has now been jettisoned include minimal middle management and the well known brain teasers which stumped thousands of job seekers.

Bock admits what everyone else in HR had been telling them for years: Everyone needs management and brain teasers only test how well someone can solve a specific problem, not overall creativity or performance.

The reality is, that despite their reliance on statistics, Google’s employee turnover  is no better than many other firms and they felt obliged to sign on to an illegal agreement with other tech firms not to poach employees. That case has been settled but the issue has not disappeared.

While there are a plethora of great ideas in the book, that many firms would do well to consider, my problem  is really an attitude issue. Much like a lot of other actions which aggravated many people, (such as private buses using public bus stops) Google seems to assume that what they do should not face the same scrutiny as others.

Other firms, they seem to feel, should be grateful that Google has shared their ideas so openly and should adopt them. That may be true, since there is a lot of bad management at most companies, but no-one likes to be told what is right for them.

In truth the best use for the book, might be for potential employees who want to figure out what principles will govern their potential employment.

And for that reason, I will suggest it for all my career clients, although I will warn them about the attitude adjustment that may be in order.



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Salary Talk

October 9, 2014

Filed under: Management,observations,Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — admin @ 4:19 pm

Should you discuss salary at a job interview?

My answer is an unequivocal, “No,” although I admit sometimes it’s impossible to avoid.

A recent example from my practice explains why. My client recently graduated from college and was about to go out on his second job interview. (His first landed him a job offer that he turned down because of the location – but that’s a different post)

We were going over possible interview questions and he asked about salary. I gave him my standard answer and we talked about ways to deflect questions.

I explained that the purpose of an interview is to get an offer and once you have an offer that’s when you discuss salary and benefits.

“But what if they just ask directly, how much money I want?” he asked. I suggested he explain that he didn’t know the exact job responsibilities, so he could not estimate what the salary should be. The point is ,that if they have not published a salary range, you don’t want to ask for too little or too much. There are a host of negotiating techniques and strategies at play, but that’s it, in a nutshell.

After the interview he called to say, sure enough, they asked for a salary requirement and were insistent that he offer a number. None of my suggested answers put them off, so he gave them a number.

Guess what, three weeks later, he got a job offer and the salary was exactly number he mentioned. He asked if it would be improper to ask for more and I assured him that it certainly was not out of bounds. We discussed how he should approach the matter, given what he said at the interview and he told me later that he got a small boost, but it made him feel much better about taking the job.

If you want another real world example check out this from Maria Klawe President of Harvey Mudd College at a recent forum on women and pay. She admits that she left $50,000/year on the table because she accepted the job and then asked about salary.

My advice, whether you know the salary range in advance, or not, try not to offer an expected salary or you will always wonder if you left money on the table.

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