Google: Meeting Needs to Keep Workers Satisfied and Motivated

iby Susanna Savage

What motivates people to take action? Why do we work tirelessly on some projects, but put out little effort on others? Why do we stay at some jobs for decades, but leave others after only a few months or years? A group of theories called “motivation theories” seek to develop answers to these questions. Organizational leaders often utilize motivation theories in determining how to motivate employees and increase job satisfaction. This case study focuses on David McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory and explores how that theory is displayed in the way Google treats its employees.

Acquired Needs Theory

Acquired Needs Theory was developed by David McClelland to explain human motivation. McClelland proposed that humans acquire their needs over the course of their lives based on the experiences that they have had (Avtgis, Rancer, & Liberman, 2012). While studying these needs over time, McClelland was able to divide them into three categories, the need for achievement, the need for power, and the need for affiliation. These became the basis for what is now known as Acquired Needs Theory (McClelland’s human motivation theory). In its most general sense, the theory maintains that everyone has needs which fall into one or more of these three categories. The motivation to fulfill these needs determines what people will choose to do (Garrin, 2014). The ultimate goal of fulfilling these needs is what motivates us to act, and we will strive our hardest to meet those needs. We will put out much effort on tasks that lead us to fulfilling needs, and we will put out little or no effort on tasks that are not related to our needs (Garrin, 2014).

Acquired Needs Theory is often applied to organizations as a way of increasing job performance and satisfaction. The theory states that if people can fulfill their needs through their work, they will be motivated to work and to work hard. However, if they do not feel that they can fulfill their needs with their job, their motivation to do excellent work will decrease. The surest way to ensure high quality work, is to motivate employees by enabling them to fulfill their needs through the work that they do (Lazaroiu, 2015).

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Photo credit: https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/human-motivation-theory.htm

• The Need for Achievement

People who have a high need for achievement are driven to make personal accomplishments. They like to be put into positions of responsibility (McClelland’s human motivation theory). Achievers tend to set moderate goals for themselves. This is because goals that are easily achieved are not satisfying to them, but at the same time, goals that are very difficult to achieve hold the risk of failure. Because achievement is so important, they will set goals that they believe they can achieve, but that are not easily attainable for others (McClelland’s human motivation theory). To satisfy this need in the work place employees must be able to take on responsibility and set their own goals. They must be given creative freedom and recognizes for their achievements and accomplishments (McClellands human motivation theory).

• The Need for power

People who have a high need for power want to attain positions that give them power over others. They aspire to be figures of greatness and respect. These people want to be in control (McClelland’s human motivation theory). To fulfill this need in the work place, individuals must have the ability to rise in influence. This means the possibility of promotion to management positions that enable them to have power over other, lower employees (Avtgis, Rancer & Liberman, 2012). Fulfilling the need for power in the work place could also mean allowing employees to pitch ideas and give input that might influence the organization. People with a need for power must feel as if they are in control, so letting them make decisions on their own and ensuring that they have some kind of influence is key.

• The Need for affiliation

According to Avtgis, Rancer and Liberman (2012), this is the “need to develop and enjoy quality relationships with others, avoid conflict, and be less dogmatic and less assertive in an effort to maintain those relationships” (186). People with the need for affiliation are primarily motivated to develop and maintain positive relationships. They want to have many friends and be liked by others. They also need a strong group affiliated. This can be achieved in the work place when employees are encouraged to have strong relationships with one another. To accomplish this, organizations can stress bonding activities and a strong corporate ‘we’ culture. People who have the need for affiliation need to find social value in the time that they spend with their co-workers and in their group membership as part of the organization (McClelland’s human motivation theory).

Critical Analysis of Google

Google is well-known, not only for its financial success and innovative products, but also for the way it treats its employees. Google has been ranked among Fortunes top 100 places to work for the last 10 years, and this year was ranked number one. Not only do Google employees experience a staggering number of luxury perks, but Google also strives to maintain a healthy and nurturing environment and workplace culture. This facilitates the high job satisfaction that Google employees experience, and in turn, the success of the organization. One of Google’s primary goals is to be an excellent place for people to work (Google careers). And Google accomplishes this goal by making sure that whether an employee needs power, achievement or affiliation, those needs can be met on the job. This does a lot more than just making Google a great place to work. It also means that Google employees love their jobs and put forth excellent work, and this employee excellence contributes to the success of the organization.

• Googlers With The Need For Achievement

Google provides employees with ample opportunities to achieve. Being employed by Google, in and of itself, is a great accomplishment, because Google’s hiring process is highly selective. Beyond that, Google encourages achievement, even from its lowest level employees. A program that exemplifies this is Google’s 80/20 rule. According to Inc., “The 80/20 rule allows Googlers to dedicate 80% of time to their primary job and 20% working on passion projects that they believe will help the company” (D’onfro, 2015). Many of the ideas that are developed in that 20% of an employee’s time become successful assent to the company. For example, Gmail was developed by a Google employee during his 20% time (D’onfro, 2015). This rule allows employees to truly use their skills and talents to make achievements, whatever their job position might be.

Google also provides employees with opportunities to take on large responsibilities. Googlers have the ability to climb to higher positions within the company through promotions. Individuals who have a strong need for achievement are given the opportunity to fulfill that need as a Google employee. Google is filled with the brightest and best minds making it an ideal atmosphere for achievers to achieve great things.

Additionally, Google offers a large number of extensive perks to its employees. While these perks serve many purposes and are offered for a variety of reasons, many of them are intended to facilitate the employees’ achievement. Free massages and delicious meals and nap-pods are all examples of perks that are designed to facilitate employee success, giving them everything that they need to feel great and do well on the job.

• Googlers With The Need For Power

Google offers employees a workplace full of opportunities to hold positions in which they have power. Managers and higher level employees hold power over the employees who report to them. And those who do not hold positions of power have the opportunity to advance to those positions based on merit. Google puts extensive stress on career planning and encourages all employees to set goals and take steps to reach their career aspirations (D’onfro, 2015).

All employees, regardless of their level in the organization are given power with programs like Google’s TGIF. According to Forbes, TGIF is “Google’s weekly all-hands meetings, where employees ask questions directly to the company’s top leaders and other execs about any number of company issues” (He, 2013). This program allows all employees to have an impact on Google, and in doing so, gives them power.

Another program that gives Google employees power is the survey. Google employees are regularly surveyed about their managers. This gives them the opportunity to express their preferences and provide feedback on the performance of their superiors. Google takes these surveys into account when evaluating management and makes crucial decisions based on them. The best managers are publicly rewarded and given the task of coaching the worst managers who are enrolled in intensive training to improve their management skills (He, 2013). This gives all employees to opportunity to take a position of power, even over their superiors. It gives them a sense of control and ensures that their voice is heard and will have an impact on the company and their own work environment (Crowley, 2013).

• Googlers With The Need For Affiliation

Google provides ample opportunity for employees to find affiliation, with a strong sense of unity and a social culture. Google employees are empowered to think of themselves as a group of people who are bound together by their skill and extraordinaire. To be employed by Google one must be among the brightest and best in one’s field. Being a Googler means belonging to a subset of the population that is known for being excellent and so Googler group membership is, by itself, incredibly affirming to employees.

Aside from this, Google employees enjoy perks that set them apart from the rest of the world and increase group solidarity. And once you become a Googler, you are a Googler for life. People who no longer work at Google are considered alumni and enjoy perks as well as support and continued group membership (D’onfro, 2015). By making it clear that Googlers are special, and set apart from others, Google makes employees feel proud to be part of a unique social group.

Another way that Google fulfills the need for affiliation is by encouraging social interactions in the work place. Many of the perks that Google offers to employees are socially oriented and designed to assist in building strong, healthy relationships between Googlers. For example, Googlers are given free access to a gym on site with fitness classes and they are encouraged to participate in organized sports with their fellow Googlers (D’onfro, 2015). Google makes employees feel like they are members of a special group of people, a group of people that they can be very proud to belong to. Within that group, Googlers are validated by strong work place relationships, encouraged by a social workplace culture.

Google effectively aligns employees’ needs for achievement, power, and affiliation with high job performance. In the framework of Acquired Needs Theory, this should mean that employees are highly motivated to fulfill their needs, and since fulfilling those needs and being an excellent Google employee are aligned, employees’ motivation to fulfill needs should translate into motivation to do an excellent job at Google. Considering Google’s success, not just in terms of business prosperity, but also in employee job satisfaction, it is safe to say that Google has successfully used Acquired Needs Theory to capture its employees’ motivations and guide them in ways that help the company and the employees themselves prosper.

Many organizations focus solely on issues that directly impact the wellbeing of the company. Things such as productivity or maximizing profits are valued above issues that seem less relevant, such as employee job satisfaction. However, it is important to understand that one cannot have a successful organization without employees who are motivated to put forward their best work. Some people believe that motivating employees is quite simple. They use rewards and punishments to encourage ideal behavior. While this strategy may work on small children, adults are much more complex beings, and this type of management may lead to resentment, high employee turnover, and low workplace motivation. Acquired Needs Theory abolishes this simplistic view of humans, by explaining motivation as the complex and sophisticated process that it is. As Google has demonstrated, when an individual’s needs can be achieved by being an excellent employee that individual will be highly motivated to be excellent (Moore, 2016). Satisfied, motivated employees are an essential component to any successful company, and following Google’s model can greatly benefit organizations of all kinds.

References

Avtgis, T. A., Rancer, A. S., & Liberman, C. J. (2012). Organizatioinal communication: Strategies for success. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt Publishing Company.

Crowley, M. C., (2013, March 21). Not a happy accident: How Google deliberately designs workplace satisfaction. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/3007268/where-are-they-now/not-happy-accident-how-google-deliberately-designs-workplace-satisfaction

D’onfro, J., (2015, September 21). An inside look at Google’s best employee perks: Current and former employees sound off on the most attractive benefits the tech giant has to offer. Inc. Retrieved from http://www.inc.com/business-insider/best-google-benefits.html

Garrin, J. M. (2014). The power of workplace wellness: A theoretical model for social change agency. Journal Of Social Change, 6(1), 109-117.

Google careers. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.google.com/about/careers/how-we-care-for-googlers/

He, L., (2013, March 19). Google’s secrets of innovation: Empowering its employees. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/laurahe/2013/03/29/googles-secrets-of-innovation-empowering-its-employees/#f2936b57eb39

Lazaroiu, G. (2015). Work motivation and organizational behavior. Contemporary Readings In Law & Social Justice, 7(2), 66-75.

McClelland’s human motivation theory: Discovering what drives members of your team. (n.d.). Mind Tools. Retrieved from https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/human-motivation-theory.htm

Moore, C. (2016). The future of work: What Google shows us about the present and future of online collaboration. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 60(3), 233-244.

 

Netflix Case Study

By Torin Wetzel

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http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eliot-borenstein/no-netflix-no-chill-in-ru_b_10636080.html

 

This case study is meant to analyze Netflix, and their organizational culture. Netflix has a very interesting culture because they give their employees a great deal of freedom, but also select those employees very carefully. Netflix as a company only hires what they call “fully formed adults”, which means putting the company first, realizing the company’s best interests, and being able to communicate. Communication is huge within Netflix because they expect employees to be able to say who they think is doing a good job or not, and describe what is going well with the company and what is not. Being able to understand what is best for the company, even if it means letting goo people go who have talents that are no longer needed. Netflix has a very open environment with its employees, but does it in a way that keeps the company moving very sufficiently.

The seven aspects of Netflix culture are, “Values are what we value, high performance, freedom and responsibility, context not control, highly aligned loosely coupled, pay top of market, and promotions and development” (Hastings). Netflix does not use what they call “nice-sounding values for the company, there values are the actual behaviors and skills that they value in employees. They hire and promote people who exhibit specific values that benefit the company. The nine values that they want their employees to emulate describe how they want the company to run. High performance is another value of Netflix. This value speaks for itself in that every company wants people who work well and have solid performance. Netflix tries to hire “stunning colleges”. They believe that it is not fair to the current workers if they hire someone that is not up to their standard. “The best thing you can do for employees—a perk better than foosball or free sushi—is hire only “A” players to work alongside them. Excellent colleagues trump everything else” (McCord, 2014). This statement is another foundation for how Netflix runs.

Freedom and responsibility are another value help closely by Netflix, and for a very good reason. Freedom comes from responsibility. When a person is seen as a responsible employee, they can have more freedom, because you know they will still get the work done. This ties in with the hiring fully formed adults statement, an adult is supposed to be very responsible and with that comes the freedom that an adult should also receive. The Netflix vacation policy that requires not tracking is an example of the freedom that the employees receive. Context, not control as a value means that manages create environments that do not set binding schedules and harassment, but are loose and goal oriented. At Netflix, the managers do not “control” the employees. Highly aligned, loosely coupled means to have clear goals and trust between teamwork. This is another value that is important to Netflix success because this stresses high performance, with teamwork and a good environment.

“Pay top of the market is core to a high performance culture” (Hastings). This value means to be able to pay a person what they deserve, and what the company can afford. This takes into consideration how effective the employee is in the workplace. People with similar titles may be payed differently because of work ethic or skill. Employees at Netflix should feel as though they are getting paid well for their job in relation to other jobs in the market. Promotions and development is the last value described by Netflix, and focuses on the opportunities for growth and also the cuts that need to be made in certain circumstances. Promotion comes when an employee is outstanding in multiple facets of their work and also is a great role model at Netflix. Development comes from individuals having the opportunities to develop themselves which in turn makes the company better off as a whole.

Netflix culture makes for a successful organization because they take core values of what they want for employees and use them to create and environment that run smooth and causes profit for the company. They do this all while making for a great and enjoyable job for employees. The communication at Netflix is so important, as it should be at many other companies, and that is what helps drive them to the next level. They know what they are looking for in an employee and help the employees that they do hire to develop.

Netflix culture is much different that most of the culture I have been involved with in organizations. Usually, what I have experienced is more of a structured culture, with many rules and regulations. Also, most of the managers I have had are more restrictive of ideas and seem to be shut off to comments regarding the organization. I have experienced some of the seven values talked about with Netflix. The values are what we value is interesting because most organizations I have been a part of have had values. Some of them follow those values in a strict way of some have had very fake values that are just put there because they look good. I have experienced some of the promotion and development value with organizations as well. If you do well with jobs and work usually you will be rewarded and sometimes receive promotions. I believe this value is prominent in most organizations. I believe that I would be a more effective employee under Netflix than previous jobs. I believe this because the way that the culture is formed suits my personality very well. I struggle when hard work does not receive recognition, and I also enjoy freedom in order to get work done. I think that another part of the culture that I would enjoy would be the top-down communication. The fact that it is okay to openly discuss things with your boss and your colleagues. That is a very nice environment to be a part of in the workplace. Also, the vacation policy is very nice.

 

Hastings, Reed. (2009). Seven Aspects of our Culture. Retrieved October 07, 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/reed2001/culture-1798664/3-Seven_Aspects_of_our_Culture

McCord, P. (2014). How Netflix Reinvented HR. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from https://hbr.org/2014/01/how-netflix-reinvented-hr

(2016). The Woman Who Created Netflix’s Enviable Company Culture. Retrieved October 06, 2016, from https://www.fastcompany.com/3056187/the-future-of-work/the-woman-who-created-netflixs-enviable-company-culture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Daivon Barrow

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The purpose of this case study is to find the common qualities effective teams, and company’s display. There are numerous of successful organizations, and companies, but they all have different guidelines and structure but have the same goal. Many companies like for their employees to have a flexible work schedule that is accessible for their employees. For this unique case study it is extremely important that we magnify the strengths that some companies use and how effective these strategies are. As many would say there may be some strengths to focus on, but there are also some weakness to analyze within some companies.

During class we had the opportunity to watch a short film of the evolution of Google. As a class we were exposed to information that shared when google first started to how it is a multimillion dollar company today. As we learned more information about Google, the film obtained the purpose of Project Aristotle at google. Project Aristotle landed the easiest way to make a working team successful. Google discovered that psychological safety is one of the major key components. If your team members are safe psychological about working together, and not afraid to take risk for each other then they will be successful. You must have a team that can trust each other, and they are willing to sacrifice for one another. The purpose of project Aristotle was to make everyone feel comfortable around each other. The more comfortable someone may be for their job then the more efficient they can be during the work force. Some unique information that was found from learning the study is the accessibility of the job. As shown in the video google, has a barbershop, fitness center, food court, and different physical activities you can get involved in while still being at work. It allows you to perform at your paste because everything is more adaptable for people. Google tries it very best to eliminate as much stress on their employees so they can be very efficient.

Forming effective work teams are the results after proceeding through with the study. Based whom characteristic skills, work ethic, leadership ability, major corporations prefer to work in teams but successfully conquering a task collectively. The team members are show great effectiveness between each other. They come together with ideas, suggestions, and ways to improve. Together they are effectively finding ideas how to improve or be efficient. From the article “ what Google learned from its quest to build the perfect team” by the New York Time Magazine the author states that the team members would get lunch together and hang out with each other outside of the office. This displays friendship and commitment between each other. They also would compete with each other on student ideas to challenge themselves. That explains the commitment and team work they have for each other.

Even in our class we are broken up into groups to work together to conquer a task. This allows us to be social interactive, it also allows us to work intensively to do something well. This also prepares us for us for a company like Google because we have experience working in a group. As being an athlete this will be a helpful or familiar work style, because athletes have experience working collectively, and also competing to do well.

I agree with both, I believe that the research is accurate. I belihttps://auorgcomm.wordpress.com/wp-admin/media-upload.php?post_id=1471&type=image&TB_iframe=1eve that working in groups is an effective way to be efficient. I also believe that there are important qualities that some need to equip in order to have a successful team. To have a successful team you need someone that has leadership instincts. Working collectively allows you to be exposed to different opinions also it brings up topics of discussion. As a leader you need someone to guide everyone out, motivate them, and also encourage them to do well. I participated in a group project, and we would meet daily. The project was for my public relations class. We would share our new ideas, be a voice for each other, and also help each other out. With me having experience on having my own organization it was brought to me to be the leader of the team. I had experience on being as leader so it wasn’t a challenge. I had everyone accountable for their work, and also for their social characteristics. As a group collectively we got better because we enjoyed each other a lot and wanted to do well. The study finding is similar how I run my organization. We meet collectively weekly, and I expect everyone to have their task done each week. We encourage each other, and complement each other as well. Everyone is assigned to some team, and have some position of leadership by having a task every week. It allows your members to get involved and also it allows them to have a sense of ownership.

Case Study 2 (Google)

Torin Wetzel

 

google_doodle_01

http://content.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,2076623,00.html

 

In this case study, the way groups worked with each other were looked at as well as the organization of google. This study, Project Aristotle, looked at effected ways to get work done through group work in the workplace. It compared and contrasted many different styles and different people to try and find the best group work possible. Project Aristotle started in 2012 as a way to form the “perfect team”.

The purpose of this study was to find out what a team that would perform very well in the work place would consist of for google. They were trying to figure out why some teams performed better than other teams and also seemed more satisfied with their work than other teams. The initial response was very blurry and didn’t give a definitive result. It was very hard for them to see a pattern with these employees to tell why they worked well with each other or vice versa.

After initial trial and error they looked deeper at what made the successful groups work. They saw that the some successful teams were friends away from work, but some were successful with people whom knew little about each other in the group outside of work. They continued studying and finally came to a consensus about why the groups were performing the way they were. They found a trend with psychological safety. This is where people feel safe to express their opinions and ideas and also get a chance to do so. No matter whether these people in the successful groups knew each other outside of work or not, they all felt safe in their group because of the atmosphere in the room. These groups showed great respect for one another and they found that every person in the group was getting talking time and a say on every topic that they had an opinion on. This helped to explain the fact that it didn’t matter if people were friends in other teams or if individuals in the other group may have been a little smarter. The whole is bigger than a couple of pieces and parts, and the groups that performed the best had great unity and safety.

These results mean that putting the right people in a group can make for a very valuable team. It was very enlightening to know that groups can work that efficiently if working the right way. Groups and teams are involved in everyday life, and if you can work well with others you are valuable. I believe that they study’s findings are very accurate. I know that if I am in a group project for a class and have all of my buddies in my group we will put work off and not do a great job on the work because we will be talking and doing other things. To form a team that has great security and safety to it without having just a bunch of your friends is hard, but doable, it just takes the right personalities. I’ve been on teams in sports where it has been awkward and hard for people to speak up because of other personalities on the team or even the coach. I’ve also been on teams where we are like a family and everyone has a say with everything, and those teams always are more fun to play on and usually succeed more than the other teams. These study findings would make me be a leader that is very open to everyone’s opinion and to give everyone a say and feel welcomed. Having everyone feel like they are part of the team and that they mean something to the team is very important.

Duhigg, C. (2016, February 28). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. New York Times. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=1

National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/55885729

Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding-team-effectiveness/steps/introduction/

 

 

Google’s Teams Through the Looking Glass

By Reagan Wheeler

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Photo Credit:  www.randomhistory.com

This case study will look at the well-known organization, Google (National Geo…, n.d.) and its Project Aristotle. It will describe common qualities contained in effective teams and how I myself have experienced those qualities when working in a group or team. I will then critically analyze the strengths and weaknesses of the styles of management that I have experienced.

 

Project Aristotle began in 2012 and was conducted by Abeer Dubey, who was a manager in Google’s People Analytics Division. The purpose of the study was to determine why some of the organization’s teams succeeded and why some of them didn’t. Google realized that teams are fundamental in an organization. They wanted to look at their own company and see which employees worked best together in order to have that strong team aspect (Duhigg, 2016).

Researchers looked at many different things such as, how often did teammates talk and spend time together outside of the office, did they have similar educational backgrounds or the same hobbies. They also studied which teams were going beyond their department goals, if gender had anything to do with their success and how long certain teams would stay together. What they found was that is was pretty impossible to determine if creating teams showed any pattern of success. They saw that the data they gathered couldn’t show if specific qualities made a difference.

The highly ranked teams of Google were made up of people who were friends outside or work, had different types of hierarchal structure, people who were practically strangers and were all completely different. So there really was no pattern for the researchers to look at. Later on in the study, they came across something called group norms. It was discovered that influencing group norms was the way to improving the teams inside Google. Even after discovering this, they were still stuck. Now, instead of having no patterns, they had too many (Duhigg, 2016).

These results mean that when forming a team there are many different things that contribute to its success. Sometimes the norms don’t make sense and sometimes they do. So it will be hard at times when trying to form effective teams. A team needs to take into account what type of group they are or want to be. I think an effective type of group is an emergent group because if everyone has shared interests and expertise then each person will have something to contribute. Each person will have ideas and will be engaged in the project at hand. An effective function for this type of small group would be quality improvement. This function determines ways to improve and organization in its effectiveness, efficiency and productivity (Basics of Quality…, n.d. ).

I think the findings from Project Aristotle were accurate in a lot of ways. I do think that there are so many patterns when it comes to teams that it’s really not possible to say what makes them effective. In my opinion, the qualities that make a team effective are going to vary with every team I’m in. They are always going to be changing.

A time when I felt that I had been a part of an effective team was my sophomore year of college at Ashland University. I was in a group project for one of my communication classes and we all met to talk about what we needed to do. We assigned each person with one part of the project to research and type up. Then once everyone had done their part we would each post it into one Google doc. After that, we met again as a group and went over everything, correcting, editing, and giving suggestions on how to make it better for out presentation. We did very well with the orientation, brainstorming, emergence and reinforcement of our team. I think that’s why it was so effective.

A way the findings would influence how I decide things if I was leading a work team is when I’m determining what dynamics are effective (Re:Work…, n.d.). I need to make sure I have an effective dynamic or things could go wrong. For example, if I was too overpowering or bossy in the group then the other members might not put in any effort. I would make sure that there was a high level of dependability within the team and make sure everyone knows what’s going on. I think all of these things would help my team be more effective.

References

Basics of Quality Improvement. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.aafp.org/practice-management/improvement/basics.html

Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=1

National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/55885729

Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding-team-effectiveness/steps/identify-dynamics-of-effective-teams

Behind the Scenes: Google

by Chaise A. Perez

Image result for google

Photo Credit: http://www.google.com

Introduction

Google has the meaning of “team” locked down. At first, they had no clue of how to have successful teams that worked the best together to reach their maximum potential. They wanted to create the perfect or best teams with the best people in them. Google had no idea how to create these teams and Google’s People Operations department discovered that there was no research done within the company of who works best together. The purpose of this case study is to explain one of Google’s projects, Project Aristotle. Project Aristotle began in 2012, with project leader Abeer Dubey, a manager in People Analytics division of Google.

Project Aristotle

            The purpose of this study at Google was to find why some of their teams did very well and why some did very poorly. The researchers wanted to see how the best teams were made. They had many questions about the formation of teams. Google’s researchers wanted to know if the best teams were made by people who were similar, people who similar educational experiences, if they teams were friends not just in the office, and what personalities matched up. They tried to balance the gender and watched how well and how long the teams worked together in multiple different types of group environments.

The key findings that the researchers at Google were they could never find certain patterns or noticed any type of team stuck out and seemed to work the best. They began their research by reading another academic study they found about how teams can and cannot work together. Then they gathered 180 different teams to study. Teams that had “friends” or people who were in contact outside of the office seemed to be ranked in some of the more effective teams. Another one of the other ranked teams were people who did not know each other at all, they were complete strangers. The most effective team they found was people who were almost exactly the same working together. They tried to focus their time on the “group norms” found within the research. “Norms are the traditions, behavioral standards and unwritten rules that govern how we function when we gather,” (nytimes.com).

Critical Analysis

            Google discovered that it didn’t matter who was on the team, it mattered how well the teams worked together. I believe their research was very well planned out and thought through. I believe the results that Google had, show that you need to study people in their own environments and other in environments to see what they could bring to the table. The main goal is to see how they work with other people and make sure they are efficient in everything they do.

I believe that the study’s findings are accurate, but I do believe that there can be certain qualities that make teams or groups effective. There are certain characteristics that could definitely work well together. In class, we learned about the advantages of organizational relationships. These advantages could have definitely been put to good use in their research. The advantages include: social interaction, social support, minority influence, and it has a flow of information. Each of these advantages bring their own importance to working with groups. Working with these advantages can definitely increase the efficiency and speed of progress.

One time I had participated with a group that worked effectively was back my freshman year of college preparing and running the pep rally. We had certain characteristics to bring the team. There were people who were super outgoing who passed out tickets, the intention was to get whoever was coming in excited, the more quite people ran the raffle ticket table, they did not have to do much communicating, there were the people who were mediocre that lead students to the student section and non-students to the other sections, and lastly there were the event coordinators who did all the behind-the-scenes things, who did a lot of working with people to put it together, but not when the event came, they stayed back and let the rest of us do our jobs. With our different characteristics, we all did our jobs and exceed the expectations of those above us. The pep rally went every well and it was very successful thanks to everyone who stepped up.

References

Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding-team-effectiveness/steps/introduction/

 

Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=1

 

National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/55885729

B. (2016). Google’s Project Aristotle: Cracking the Code of Successful Teams. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://medium.com/@Bolste/google-s-project-aristotle-cracking-the-code-of-successful-teams-e8847743502#.78dzc9y3s

 

Coming Up With the Perfect Team: Google’s Project Aristotle

by Tony Snider

To accomplish large tasks or brainstorm new brilliant ideas companies often turn to working in teams.  Working together in teams or groups has many benefits; given you have a productive group that works well together.  At Google, they conducted a study titled “Project Aristotle” that looked at over 100 teams of workers within Google itself trying to understand what exactly makes an efficient team.   The majority of the work done at Google is done in teams, so the importance of finding out what worked best in terms of teamwork for them was imperative.

Project Aristotle

Google launched Project Aristotle in 2012, shortly after completing a similar study in “Project Oxygen”. Project Oxygen looked to see what makes a great manager.  After the success of Project Oxygen, Google applied many of the same methods to discover the secrets of making the most effective teams at Google (Understanding Team Effectiveness, 2016).  The atmosphere at Google is very relaxed, even a bit revolutionary.  With this relaxed atmosphere and emphasis on worker satisfaction, a main aspect of the study was to determine if this atmosphere was beneficial or hurtful to work production and the generation of new and revolutionary ideas.  This project studied many different types of employees as well; such as engineers, psychologists, and sociologists.  Project Aristotle’s researchers began by reviewing a half-century of academic studies looking at how teams worked.  They brought up questions like whether group participants worked best when they had similar hobbies and backgrounds and whether it was best if they were all outgoing or all shy.google

Photo Credit – dailymail.co.uk

  No matter how the researchers arranged their data, at first it was almost impossible to find any patterns or evidence that the composition of the team made any difference in their work production.   This led Google to start looking in different directions, specifically toward norms.  Norms can be unspoken or openly acknowledged, but their influence is often profound.  This means that some employees may behave in certain ways as individuals, but when they gather with others they may act differently.  This often spurs groupthink, which is when employees will not express their own ideas to the group because it may go against what everyone thinks and they just want to make the work go smoothly (Duhigg, 2016).  So Project Aristotle’s researchers began searching through their data looking for norms.   The project’s results showed that an effective team was not necessarily scouting to see who should be on the team, but figuring out how well specific people meshed and worked together.  Psychological safety was the main factor discovered in Project Aristotle.  This showed how employees wanted to feel safe enough around their co-workers before exposing themselves and giving out their ideas.  This meant that for a team to truly be successful it was up to the employees to get comfortable enough around one another to be vulnerable with each other with expressing their ideas (Schlossberg, 2016).  Following psychological safety, Project Aristotle’s main factors to a successful group was dependability, structure and clarity, meaning and impact.

 

Critical Analysis

Google itself started in a small garage in California almost 20 years ago.  It was started by two college buddies that had a vision, and that weren’t afraid to express their ideas to one another (Inside Google, 2016).  Understanding how the whole company started only solidifies my agreement towards those findings of Project Aristotle.  Because the two originators of Google (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) were comfortable around one another and were able to openly express their thoughts to each other, Google was able to flourish from just a small company operating out of a garage to one of the most profitable companies in the world today.

Had Larry Page and Sergey Brin been chosen by a board or selection committee to come up with a revolutionary idea based on who they were or how similar they are, Google probably would have never began.  But since these two were genuinely close with one another and had psychological safety, Google was able to be born from their minds.  I feel that Project Aristotle was very successful at being able to point out the main outlier for what makes a successful group.  Although the project did not come away with any specific algorithm or addition of types of workers that create the best groups, they did find solid evidence at what makes groups work together the best, even if it was ironically evident in the beginning of the company itself with the relationship between Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

References

Duhigg, C. (2016). What Google Learned From Its Quest to Build the Perfect Team. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/28/magazine/what-google-learned-from-its-quest-to-build-the-perfect-team.html?_r=0
Re:Work – Guide: Understand team effectiveness. (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://rework.withgoogle.com/guides/understanding-team-effectiveness/steps/introduction/
National Geographic – Inside Google (High-Definition). (n.d.). Retrieved September 30, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/55885729
Schlossberg, M. (2016). Google experiment reveals the single most important quality for teamwork. Retrieved September 30, 2016, from http://www.businessinsider.com/google-reveals-how-to-have-the-perfect-team-2016-2