Review: Work Rules! by Laszlo Bock

work rulesThis review first ran in the Jan. 4th edition of The Hamilton Spectator.

Work Rules: Insights From Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

By Laszlo Bock

Hachette Book Group


Hoping to hire some all-star talent in 2016?

Be prepared to spend some serious money on recruitment.

And where will you come up with the cash to find and sign the best and brightest?

Google’s senior vice president of People Operations recommends raiding your training and development budget.

“The presence of a huge training budget is not evidence that you’re investing in your people,” says VP Laszlo Bock, author of Work Rules. “It’s evidence that you failed to hire the right people to begin with. Refocusing your resources on hiring better will have a higher return than almost any training program you can develop.”

Google front-loads its investment in people, says Bock. “The majority of our time and money spent on people is invested in attracting, assessing and cultivating new hires. If we are better able to select people up front, that means we have less work to do with them once they are hired.”

Google pays bonuses to employees who make successful referrals.  “In the early days and for many years, our best source of candidates was referrals from existing employees.” While the bonuses are generous, it turns out employees refer friends and colleagues for intrinsic reasons. They love their work and want others to experience it too.

Google also runs its own search firm. Staff who once spent their days screening resumes and scheduling interviews now proactively search for candidates. Google recognized that the best people aren’t looking for you or a new job. You need to find them.

“Hundreds of brilliant recruiters find and cultivate these individuals over time – sometimes over years,” says Bock. “Our in-house search firm finds more than half of our hires each year, at a cost far lower than using outside firms, with deeper insight into the market, and while providing candidates with a warmer, more intimate experience.”

Once you land your all-stars, be prepared to pay unfairly. Make compensation commensurate with contributions. “Your best people are better than you think, and worth more than you pay them,” says Bock. “If your best performer is generating 10 times as much impact as an average performer, they shouldn’t necessarily get 10 times the reward but I’d wager they should get at least five times the reward.”

Also enlist your high performers to train your low performers. “I promise you that in your organization there are people who are expert on every facet of what you do, or at least expert enough that they can teach others.”

Bock says your in-house trainers will understand your company and your customers better than any consultant or academic.  “It is generally far better to learn from people who are doing the work today, who can answer deeper questions and draw on current, real-life examples.  They understand your context better, they are always available to provide immediate feedback and they are mostly free.”

Free is a recurring theme in Bock’s playbook for building better organizations. The majority of Google’s people programs cost the company next to nothing or nothing at all. These programs have helped Google earn more than 100 awards as a top employer. FORTUNE magazine has named Google the best company to work for in the U.S. a record five times.

“The secrets of Google’s people success can be replicated in organizations large and small, by individuals and CEOs,” says Bock. “Not every company will be able to duplicate perks like free meals, but everyone can duplicate what makes Google great.”

And that greatness can help your organization recruit an unfair share of top talent in 2016.

Published by

Jay Robb

I've reviewed more than 500 business books for the Hamilton Spectator since 1999 and worked in public relations since 1993.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s