Randy Knaflic, a speaker at the marcus evans HR & Talent Summit 2010 discusses the HR initiatives and philosophies that make Google one of the most desirable places to work.
Montreux, Switzerland, April 29, 2010 - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Google is renowned for innovation – and its Human Resources (HR) initiatives are no exception. High-performing employees can spend up to 20 per cent of their time on pet projects, sometimes leading to large-scale product launches, says Randy Knaflic, Director of Staffing and Programmes EMEA at Google.
A speaker at the marcus evans HR & Talent Summit 2010 taking place in Switzerland, 14 – 16 June 2010, Knaflic shares his thoughts on transparency and trust, two philosophies at the heart of Google’s organisational culture.
What are some of the challenges facing HR executives in Europe at the moment?
Randy Knaflic: As European HR executives come out of the economic crisis, their biggest challenge is to figure out where they stand and get things moving again. We are in growth mode at Google, so we have the added challenge of getting our engine restarted while others are waiting to see what happens next. Recruiting is generally the first to be affected in an economic downturn; so many recruiters, HR teams and clients will need some time to get geared up again. I always compare hiring and recruiting to steering a large cruise liner: it takes some time to turn around or change course.
When you are lucky enough to have a very large pool of people interested in working for your company, recruiting becomes much more of a specialised effort – there are many detailed areas requiring your attention regardless of economic circumstances. For instance, you need a good relationship with public sector officials who issue work permits, so it is your job to help them realise that your company’s growth directly benefits their country. This mutual understanding will prove valuable when hiring does pick up again. As HR executives, we are also responsible for keeping our teams and clients up-to-date on and knowledgeable of good talent management habits and practices all the time - even during slowdowns.
What talent acquisition programmes prove most successful?
Randy Knaflic: Recruiting means sharing and offering your company’s culture - which is often abstract and difficult to quantify in terms of set projects or initiatives. So, rather than focus on specific acquisition programmes, we like to think more about the cultural philosophies which drive our actions. Everything we do at Google is centred on two key areas: transparency and trust. Each member of our team has OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) which are clearly listed and visible to everyone else at Google. In exchange, all employees have access to detailed company performance data. We base all decisions on a consensus - for instance, we use steering committees to direct hiring and promotion. We trust in the ‘wisdom of crowds’ and we also trust in individuals. We do not clock the time they arrive at and leave work - we believe they know what they need to do to be successful, and we offer benefits and remove obstacles that could prevent them from doing their job well.
How can employees be inspired to go the extra mile?
Randy Knaflic: Most HR people would probably agree that financial incentives motivate employees to be successful. That said, while financial rewards are very important, the leading forces that drive my team is our trust and confidence in their abilities and openness about our joint objectives. When employees are given a clear set of goals, they get a sense of accomplishment once targets are achieved. Creative freedom is also very inspiring. At Google, we are known for giving individuals the freedom to expand on and grow their ideas, spending 20 per cent of their time on pet projects, for instance. In fact, some of Google’s most interesting and successful products have resulted from ‘20% time’. I think these types of initiatives, more so than money, encourage employees to try different, bigger and better things.
What long-term strategies would you recommend to HR and talent directors?
Randy Knaflic: Again, openness and transparency have worked well for us as a team and as a larger organisation. I would recommend these philosophies to anyone, but only if they are willing to simultaneously welcome debate and discussion. Here is an example: every week we have a Google-wide “Thank God It’s Friday” (TGIF) party where local offices come together, relax and review. We share news, successes, progress against targets and meet new employees over some pizza and beer or wine. We started this tradition in the very early days of the company and have kept it going through all our international growth. In Zurich, we end TGIF with a Q&A session during which anyone can ask any question to anyone in the organisation. I do not know of too many companies where you can stand up on a Friday with a beer in one hand and a microphone in the other and ask Eric Schmidt a very targeted question about a decision he made. And it works!
Another recommendation: Human Resource departments should be careful never to overlook or gloss-over hiring, even when they are under strain. It is important to remember that bad hiring costs more than no hiring. HR executives need to examine and re-examine their hiring processes - from sourcing to selection - and consider what message they want to convey to candidates and clients on a constant basis. This is true whether you are stuck in a downturn or hiring at full speed!
Contact: Sarin Kouyoumdjian-Gurunlian, Press Manager, marcus evans, Summits Division
Tel: + 357 22 849 313
About the HR & Talent Summit 2010
This unique forum will take place at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Montreux, Switzerland, 14 – 16 June 2010. Offering much more than any conference, seminar or trade show, this exclusive meeting will bring together esteemed industry thought leaders and solution providers to a highly focused and interactive networking event. The summit includes presentations on attaining ultimate employee performance, talent scouting and organisational transformation.
For more information please send an email to infomarcusevanscy.com or visit the event website at http://www.hrtalentsummit.com/RandyKnaflicInterview
Please note that the summit is a closed business event and the number of participants strictly limited.
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