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

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From the visionary head of Google's innovative People Operations comes a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work-and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring that they succeed.

"We spend more time working than doing anything else in life. It's not right that the experience of work should be so demotivating and dehumanizing." So says Laszlo Bock, head of People Operations at the company that transformed how the world interacts with knowledge.

This insight is the heart of WORK RULES!, a compelling and surprisingly playful manifesto that offers lessons including:

Take away managers' power over employees
Learn from your best employees-and your worst
Hire only people who are smarter than you are, no matter how long it takes to find them
Pay unfairly (it's more fair!)
Don't trust your gut: Use data to predict and shape the future
Default to open-be transparent and welcome feedback
If you're comfortable with the amount of freedom you've given your employees, you haven't gone far enough.

Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and a profound grasp of human psychology, WORK RULES! also provides teaching examples from a range of industries-including lauded companies that happen to be hideous places to work and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees. Bock takes us inside one of history's most explosively successful businesses to reveal why Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work in the world, distilling 15 years of intensive worker R&D into principles that are easy to put into action, whether you're a team of one or a team of thousands.

WORK RULES! shows how to strike a balance between creativity and structure, leading to success you can measure in quality of life as well as market share. Read it to build a better company from within rather than from above; read it to reawaken your joy in what you do.

406 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2015

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About the author

Laszlo Bock

6 books241 followers
Laszlo Bock leads Google's people function, responsible for attracting, developing, retaining, and delighting "Googlers." He believes that giving people freedom and supplementing our instincts with hard science are steps on the path to making work meaningful and people happy.

Laszlo's first book, WORK RULES!, is available for pre-order now and will come out on April 7, 2015. As of January 2015 it has already been recognized by THE WASHINGTON POST ("12 leadership books to watch for 2015"), THE TELEGRAPH ("Top business books to read in 2015"), THE HUFFINGTON POST ("The 15 new books to read in 2015") and VENTURES AFRICA ("First a reader, then a leader").

During Laszlo's tenure, Google has been named the Best Company to Work For more than 30 times around the world and received over 100 awards as an employer of choice. In 2010, he was named "Human Resources Executive of the Year" by HR Executive Magazine.

He has testified before Congress on immigration reform and labor issues and been featured in The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the PBS Newshour and on the Today Show.

Laszlo's earlier experience spans executive roles at the General Electric Company, management consulting at McKinsey & Company, start-ups, non-profits, and acting. He (briefly) held the world record for Greek Syrtaki dance (along with 1,620 others).

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,112 reviews
Profile Image for Otis Chandler.
386 reviews113k followers
March 22, 2017
I think this is a must read for any leader in a modern business. Google has done a lot of things right both in their products and also in how they run their company and build their culture, and this is a fairly detailed account of how they've built an impressive culture, and is written by someone who knows - their head of HR. I'm a little surprised he told as much as he did - but I suppose it will only help for recruiting.

Goodreads is now a subsidiary of Amazon, and I have spent significant time learning to integrate the best of Amazons culture with ours. And I'm happy to say that many - perhaps most - of the best practices listed in the book are also used by Amazon. Things like hiring people smarter than you, hiring committees and having objective people on them, committees to approve promotions, focusing on the two tails, and more. These don't seem to be things all companies do yet - but should.

So while much of the practices were things I'm already doing or aware of - there was a lot I learned from the book too. Here are some of the bigger takeaways I had.

One of the more interesting ones was the notion to separate performance reviews from compensation discussions. This makes a lot of sense, is something we have already been making progress towards, and is something I'm going to think about more.

“Traditional performance management systems make a big mistake. They combine two things that should be completely separate: performance evaluation and people development. Evaluation is necessary to distribute finite resources, like salary increases or bonus dollars. Development is just as necessary so people grow and improve." If you want people to grow, don’t have those two conversations at the same time. Make development a constant back-and-forth between you and your team members, rather than a year-end surprise."

Another one was giving managers a bi-annual scorecards from their directs on how they did on ~10 dimensions that Google has determined are the determinants of a great manager. And no surprise (but very important to keep in mind), the book found that "manager quality was the single best predictor of whether employees would stay or leave, supporting the adage that people don’t quit companies, they quit bad managers." While we do a lot of surveys, we haven't packaged up the managers feedback into a report like this, and I think that would be powerful.

Laszlo was impressive in citing lots of research to prove his points. It was one of my more favorite things about the book - he is clearly a student of human development. This led to lots of tidbits that apply pretty broadly, and which are great things to keep in mind when building a business.

The chapter on nudges was I think my favorite in the book. Pretty cool the depth to which they have taken these - reminds me a lot of the onboarding funnel analysis I've done for Goodreads - paying attention to where you can message timely, relevant, easily actionable messages that will result in people taking desired actions, and a/b testing the results. Pretty impressive they a/b test that kind of stuff at Google! Examples given were around lists on how to onboard someone as a manager, how to be onboarded as a newbie, how to get more people to save money earlier in life and enroll in the 401K program (his data here was impressive - on how people of the same income bracket vary widely on wealth accumulated in their lives based purely on how much they save when they are young), and how to get people to eat healthier by putting the healthier foods in the kitchens more prominently.

"Nudges are an incredibly powerful mechanism for improving teams and organizations. They are also ideally suited to experimentation, so can be tested on smaller populations to fine-tune their results."

Laszlo did a great job of explaining a lot of the psychology behind nudges too. My favorite was the research about checklists, and story about how the Airforce found that even the smartest, best trained pilots can make mistakes, but having checklists reduces their error rates significantly.

"I realized that management too is phenomenally complex. It’s a lot to ask of any leader to be a product visionary or a financial genius or a marketing wizard as well as an inspiring manager. But if we could reduce good management to a checklist, we wouldn’t need to invest millions of dollars in training, or try to convince people why one style of leadership is better than another. We wouldn’t have to change who they were. We could just change how they behave."

"It turns out checklists really do work, even when the list is almost patronizingly simple. We’re human, and we sometimes forget the most basic things."

Another thing I loved was the focus on identifying the people who are best at a specific skill, and designing a program for them to teach that skill to others. G2G (Googlers 2 Googlers).

"Giving employees the opportunity to teach gives them purpose. Even if they don’t find meaning in their regular jobs, passing on knowledge is both inspiring and inspirational."

I liked his descriptions of deliberate learning. He gave examples of asking after every meeting "what did we learn and how could we do better in the future". And the story about Tiger hitting golf balls at 4am in the rain was pretty sweet.

"Ericsson refers to this as deliberate practice: intentional repetitions of similar, small tasks with immediate feedback, correction, and experimentation."

My favorite tidbit - which I know to be true but is something great to keep in mind - is how to motivate people: let them connect to the people their work is helping.

"even a small connection to the people who benefit from your work not only improves productivity, it also makes people happier. And everyone wants their work to have purpose.

Bock, Laszlo (2015-04-07). Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead (pp. 340-341). Grand Central Publishing. Kindle Edition.
Profile Image for Michael Scott.
724 reviews131 followers
April 11, 2015
Laszlo Bock's Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

Overall, I really liked this book. I learned much and discovered even more. Multumesc mult, Laszlo!

Main positives:

1. In the end, and in bits throughout the book, the reader discovers that Google uses not so much a ground-breaking process, but rather a data-driven iteration of well-known HR (and to some extent also managerial) processes.

2. Very good analysis of many HR processes, including detailed and important references. I particularly liked the identification of references from a few decades ago, such as Andrew S. Grove's High Output Management (Intel processes, mid-1990s). I enjoyed the summary dismissal of tradition: "Command-oriented, low-freedom management is common because it’s profitable, it requires less effort, and most managers are terrified of the alternative." Also, good reference to Dave Eggers' The Circle (2013), a dystopian novel that seems to describe Googlife.

3. The analysis of the "two tails", the best and the worst performers, is nicely done.
In traditional management, with narrow remuneration bands, best-performers should always quit after a great delivery, to seek to maximize their value through competitive market forces. Good observation that "most talented people on the planet are increasingly physically mobile, increasingly connected through technology, and—importantly—increasingly discoverable by employers.". At Google, they are rewarded much closer to their contribution. In traditional management, worst-performers are fired, and failures are never acceptable. At Google, risk is encouraged and failure from which much is learned is rewarded.

4. The simple but powerful idea of using checklists, including the 10-point checklist that summarizes the book.

5. Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) must be specific, measurable, verifiable (so, achievable, relevant, and timed). SMART criteria exist already for many decades (Laszlo cites I believe George Doran's 1980s paper on "the S.M.A.R.T. way"), but here OKRs are revised each quarter and employees are supposed to set goals that far exceed their performance (and results of "achieved 70%" are considered very good).

Other positive aspects:

6. The inspiring text about "trusting first", which works in an environment of positive and ethical people.

7. The notion that "public recognition is one of the most effective and most underutilized management tools". Very good point, albeit gamification could have been mentioned more here. The cafeteria setup and the difference between a job, a career, and calling also points to gamification, with its many tracks of advancement and support for Achievers/Explorers/Socializers/Winners.

8. The simple but powerful idea that full transparency is necessary in modern institutions. (This goes in contrast to the politicking seen in so many traditional companies.)

9. The focus on 'spreading the wealth', here, to make the best share their knowledge to others, and to analyze the best vs the worst to identify true best-practices.

10. Description of new interview practices at Google. All more standardized, enabling cross-comparisons. Focus also on candidate experience with the process. Loved the data.

11. Success at job depends on personal 'scope, impact, and leadership'. Title follows leadership, and, even then, no more pompous titles. Also helps with retention: bad for people trying to move to another company, because it is more difficult to explain what your work was about.

12. Googlegeist as tool to collect feedback about each person, also from peers.

13. Performance assessment focusing on personal development, instead of ratings and rewards. At least the two processes should be separated. (This is an old HR approach, with obvious pros and cons.)

14. Lesson learned: "Expanding the proportion of people receiving the top rating better reflected their actual performance".

15. The calibration processes used at Google, especially the peer-review of decisions by collectives of managers, match those used in so many other companies...

16. The discussion about primary and secondary education vs training is very interesting. In short: annually, companies spend on training about a quarter of what is spent on primary and secondary education, but get less than a tenth of the results of education. In the US, $156 billions spent in 2011 for training that resulted in disappointingly little.

17. Discussion about training practices that work, mention to Ericsson's "deliberate practice: intentional repetitions of similar, small tasks with immediate feedback, correction, and experimentation. Simple practice, without feedback and experimentation, is insufficient."

18. Interesting observations about what many of us do. Among others: how we ascribe aesthetic and personal value based on how much we paid.

19. Excellent tips for onboarding starters. This follows up on the long-running thread on the importance of having high retention of employees (is it useful? or just a way to justify HR's practices? the author does not address these questions)

20. Laszlo's hierarchy of needs for HR departments.

(Personally, I also liked that the author presents a chain of though that matches my own "Modern West vs Old Russian education system" analogy: "You either believe people are fundamentally good or you don’t. [...] If people are good, they should be free. [...vs...] Taylor, who told Congress in 1912 that management needs to tightly control workers, who were too feeble-minded to think for themselves". Very funny!)

Main negatives:

1. Running against own claims (see main positive 1), the author tries occasionally to emphasize how new a part of the process is.
(The title is an example in this sense.) We see claims of novelty regarding processes and mechanisms that have been identified and studied before, sometimes even decades before Google started using them. This claim for novelty could be correct, as much larger scale and a very different environment can change things, but not if the findings are the same and the process seems to have been trivially adapted. There is one more inconsistency here, in that for some of the processes (such as awards), even Google only has a few samples (real people put under the microscope) to base its decisions upon.

2. The defense of failed Google products.
Wave, "an entirely new way of interacting online"?! Please, more geek speak and less corporate talk.

3. The defense of failed Google policies.
For example, "Our efforts to draw more women into computer science started before we had thirty employees" is correct, but fails to even mention how this ended: in Jan 2015, only 17% of Google's tech employees were women (see Google's official statement and an analysis)). This is pretty much the status quo in the Sillicon Valley, and Google is here on par with the other top tech companies, such as Yahoo, Facebook, and Apple (Business Insider's analysis from Jan 2015, and the ratios discovered via volunteered information and crowdsourced).

3. The unnecessarily manipulative text.
The ode to HR departments. The constant jibes at Yahoo and other competitors of Google; Marissa Meyer is in particular a target. The thinly veiled attempt to discredit competition. For example, near the end, the author identifies several major companies that now use People Operations instead of Human Resources; he immediately claims having spoken to one of the top people running this at a nong-Google organization, who purportedly claims that it's just a word trick, not the real thing ("it’s just regular HR. We just like calling it that [n.b.: People Operations]."). As another example, Bill Gates is quoted out of context with a complaint that his foundation's actions do not get the same recognition as Google's (smaller) deeds; this makes Bill Gates sound petty, whereas his claim is correct: eradicating malaria in Africa vs a mug-shot.

4. (a critique on Google, rather than this book:) Nudges.
Nudges are ways to influence behavior, stopping only short of enforcing it; for example, building a corridor with only one exit would enforce using it, but building one with two doors, of which one is highlighted, would nudge people to use the highlighted door instead of forcing them to do so. The argument for using "nudges" at Google looks very similar to what Big Brother would argue in 1984 (all is fair for the greater good). The extent to which Google seems to already apply nudges is already scary (hint: everything is measured, many things are engineered to manipulate people). "Would the results hold for thousands of Googlers?" seems a question commonly asked; "Would it be ethical to try?" not so much. (Recently, Facebook has been involved in a scandal) As a consequence, I am reconsidering my career options.

5. Many of the stories are personal, often funny, but do not advance the cause of this book. They do match the author's useful story 'Frank Flynn, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, once told me the secret to high student evaluations: “Tell lots of jokes and lots of stories. Grad students love stories.” He went on to explain that it’s a constant trade-off between being engaging and imparting knowledge.'

Profile Image for Heidi The Reader.
1,372 reviews1,420 followers
December 14, 2021
Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock is a behind the scenes glimpse into the "People Operations" of Google, the mammoth internet company.

Laszlo explains Google wasn't always a global leader. It started out like every other company- with a couple of dedicated people and a big dream.

After some background, Laszlo gives step-by-step ways to improve your own business, whatever that may be, from the inside-out while remaining true to the mission that led to the creation of your company in the first place.

It's clear from this book that Google is an engineer-dominated workplace. Every decision from hiring to employee perks is tested and the numbers are crunched to justify the expense, time spent, etc.

To be honest, psychology tests, graphs, and in-depth analysis isn't really my thing. I enjoy a more artsy approach to the world and so the nitty-gritty of Laszlo's work wasn't that interesting to me.

In Work Rules, I was hoping for more insider stories than engineering problems, but that's not how the book was written.

That's not to say that there isn't value to be had in this read. My take-away chapters were "It's Not All Rainbows and Unicorns" and "What You Can Do Starting Tomorrow."

In ‘It's Not All Rainbows and Unicorns,’ Laszlo gives the reader moments in Google's history when their policies didn't really work and how they got through the crisis. It was heavy on dramatic stories and I enjoyed it quite a lot.

In ‘What You Can Do Starting Tomorrow,’ Laszlo boils down his previous chapters into ten steps for businesses to take right now. If you don't have time to dig through the entire book, ‘What You Can Do Starting Tomorrow’ gives you a pretty thorough overview.

If you enjoyed Work Rules!, you may enjoy The Happiness Advantage: The Seven Principles of Positive Psychology That Fuel Success and Performance at Work by Shawn Achor. Shawn explains, in an engaging manner, many of the principles that Google has adopted to improve their employees’ quality of life.

I received a free advanced reader's copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads. FTC guidelines: check! And thank you for reading.
Profile Image for Rick.
102 reviews231 followers
May 20, 2015
Disclosure: I've worked at Google for 8 years, and have known Laszlo for much of that time. I'm a big fan of his, and have worked closely with several of his teams over the years. With that out of the way:

This is a spectacular book, and would be well worth your time whether you're early in your career and trying to figure out what kind of company you want to work for, or you're later in your career and are responsible for the careers of those who work for you. Laszlo lays out much of what makes Google tick - in far more detail than has ever been shared publicly before - and provides ample supporting data to make the case for what has worked, and dissuade you from repeating our mistakes.

Regardless of industry, I think most readers will find many take-aways in the book: how to hire (and fire) well, how to grow your teams and improve their skills, how to cultivate a culture that attracts and retains the talent you want, and how to experiment to find the things that make the biggest difference in your workplace.

Can't recommend this book highly enough. Even though much of this was already known to me, it was nevertheless a refreshing reminder of what makes Google a great place to work - and gives you plenty of ideas to apply to your own environment.
Profile Image for Peter.
672 reviews46 followers
July 9, 2017
Did this book transform how I live and lead? No. It's nowhere near as revolutionary or life changing as its subtitle would have you believe. It has a lot of interesting ideas, made even more interesting since they're from the context of Google. I'm sure most people have heard or seen glimpses of how Google supposedly works and treats their people, so having a book where those are explicitly divulged was nice. As with most business books, there were concepts I agreed with and a bunch I didn't see eye-to-eye with the author with, but luckily there were more of the former.

In terms of the writing, it wasn't the best. A few topics were very long-winded and unnecessarily repetitive. There also seemed to be a lot of statistics thrown around which I understand the desire for, especially coming from someone at Google, but they bogged the book down at times. On that note, I think it could have used a bit more editing. I'm sure they could have cut a third or more of the length easily without sacrificing on content. They could even have replaced that with more cases of failed initiatives and issues they've faced, which were some of the more interesting points in the book.

There are too many topics to go through all of them in a review like this, but I'll highlight some of the ones I agreed with or liked.
*Advocating for organisations to give their employees freedom and trusting them to use it wisely
*Knowing that people are more important than the processes
*Utilising the company's existing employees to teach others
*Striving for transparency from not only higher management but from everyone
*Embracing change in general, but making sure it's implemented with care and then tested and reviewed to make sure the changes are continuously working
*Disconnecting performance evaluation from developmental feedback
*Highlighting importance of intrinsic motivation and the counterintuitive benefits of monetary rewards
*How they used 'nudges' in an effort to improve their employee's lives without needing to resort to explicit rules

Here are some of the topics I didn't agree with or disliked. Most of these were because they were too specific to Google.
*Resources and time apparently needed in the hiring process
*Obsession with constant performance evaluation and the supposed 'need' people have for it
*Oversimplifying how they handle poor performance
*Not talking enough about how they handle entitlement issues amongst their workforce stemming from all the perks they offer
*Lack of info on aftermath of cases where projects failed
*Taking tracking and feedback practices too far. Seemed very 1984 at times. Sounded like a lot of time is spent on spying on people, making them fill out surveys or obsess about statistics in general
*After reading some better-researched reviews, I see now that the book isn't as sincere as it claims with employee turnover rates and female employment rates being very much within the industry norms and not significantly better as the author implied

This book made me think about a lot of aspects of how the company I work for does things. I thought starting the book emphasising how more employees should have a 'founder' mindset was quite clever since it makes the reader feel empowered to bring up possible changes within their own organisation. Despite the three stars, I'd definitely recommend this book to most people. There are a lot of good ideas here and it could be the nudge a lot of people and companies need to change and improve the way they work for the better.

Profile Image for Arthur Meursault.
Author 2 books20 followers
May 10, 2018
Probably would have made a better Powerpoint presentation than a book.

Laszlo Bock starts Work Rules by telling the reader the names of all the important people Laszlo Bock has met and worked with, and it goes downhill from there. Did you know that Laszlo cold-called 8 HR executives at GE and Pepsi because he wanted to work there, but only Anne Abaya at GE (I've never heard of her either) returned his call? Six weeks later, he was hired as (please note the capital letters) Vice President of Compensation and Benefits of the Commercial Equipment Financing Division of the GE Capital Division of the General Electric Company because Laszlo is the f**king sh*t. His first boss was Michael Evans. Haven't heard of Michael Evans? What about his CEO at the time Jack Welch? Or his chief HR officer Bill Conaty? Maybe you know Martha Josephson, the recruiter at Google who begged Laszlo to join them?


Well, f*ck you.

When he isn't reciting the phonebook, Laszlo likes to tell you about how hard were the early lives of all the rich people at Google. It's not enough just to say they started out as normal, moderately wealthy, middle-class people who had good education and opportunities offered to them at the right time. No. Every one of them came from a harrowing history. Laszlo's parents were persecuted in Communist Russia and didn't even see a banana till their thirties. Larry Page and Sergei Brin weren't just the founders of Google, Larry's grandpa suffered class warfare in his bluecollar job, and Sergei's family were nearly slaughtered in Soviet anti-Semitic progroms. Thank Jehova that they all ended up becoming very very very rich, because according to this book nobody deserves it more than them. It's like how every winner of a TV singing contest needs a tragic backstory before they can win the finale.

And this is before you've even finished Chapter One.

If you can keep your eyes open, the rest of this 406 page self-laudatory wankrag is a thick sticky wad of empty platitudes, virtue signaling and utter tosh.

I was forced to read this book and honestly it was only because I was forced to read this book that I could finish it. Tears of boredom were rolling down my cheeks as I read through Laszlo's 112th back-slapping reach-around.

Don't read this book. It has a high rating on Goodreads because idiotic middle managers who want to be seen to have the right thoughts and/or hope they can get noticed by Google one day will award this book five stars. They're idiots. Don't be one of them. If you really want to transform your life, learn plumbing or start doing weight lifting. You'll learn far more than this waste of paper thinks it can teach you.
Profile Image for L.A. Starks.
Author 11 books650 followers
May 21, 2015
This is a superb book about making work happier, better, and more productive that should be read by...well, everyone who works in an organization of any size. The author is the head of Google's People Operations.

Page after page of Bock's book highlight the unconventional and successful approaches Google has taken to its employees: from the big upfront investment in hiring, to taking authority away from managers, to Googlegeist, to interest clubs. Moreover, Bock and his team make an extraordinary effort to quantify current practices and test new ones. It is HR done the Google/big data way, something that has allowed this team of engineers to expand from two people in Silicon Valley to fifty thousand across the globe.

I have a few negative points; however, they don't change my recommendation.

1) Readers should understand that in California, where Google is headquartered, a legal clause known as a non-compete cannot be enforced as it can elsewhere in the U.S. Bock never mentions this, but it is the reason and basis for the lavish, and thoughtful, benefits tech companies offer. They have to try harder to get employees to stay.

2) I was surprised to see very few mentions of child care and none of elder care. There are also no references in the index. For two parents who work full-time, child care is the third full-time job--on-site child care can become more significant a benefit than any other. Small start-up energy companies offer on-site child care. Google apparently does, too, but there is no mention of it in the book.

3) While there is ample mention of the discussions behind Google's decision to operate in and then pull back from China, I see no similar discussion or transparency about Googler head Eric Schmidt's decision to line up vast amounts of tech and human resources for Obama's 2012 campaign (that is for the Democratic presidential campaign, but not the Republican or even libertarian presidential campaigns) http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/... Thus, there's no transparency and no discussion for a company that wouldn't consider similar micro-targeting and big data usage to, for example, buy and sell stocks.

Profile Image for Izette.
72 reviews4 followers
July 18, 2017
It's a tough one to review as it's possibly quite personal for me being in HR. I can so relate to some of the issues experienced but also find it helpful to look at it from a more data driven perspective. I am always struck by how your frame of mind impacts your experience of a book. If you're ready to hear it, you want to hear more. When you're not ready, it's not so fun to read. I had a bit of both during this both.

One thought I had was that this book will make more people want to apply at Google, it's a really great recruitment tool!

The author had quite a job to bring all the information together in a sensible structure, where to start, what to focus on, what their lessons were and how they share that with the reader. It really fits for me that he would want to share this with any reader because that is part of their culture - to make information available as it can bring change and move you forward.

If you want this book to have impact on your business, you'll need to go and start with the suggested Work Rules and apply them one by one. In our case, do some internal work and see where we need to improve, then see what suggestions there are and start making changes.

In my mind this is a workbook now, something you can reference back to from time to time and evaluate progress.

I really appreciated the last section on HR/People Operations. My experience with HR has never been great, so being just that now is quite a challenge because you want it to be relevant, to add real value and improve the lives of the staff within the business. I quite like the label: People Operations - it feels more appropriate.

I gave it a good rating because I think it's packed with relevant tips for someone in my role. I don't think everyone would want to read this, but I think anyone in HR should read this.
Profile Image for Kim Leandersson.
46 reviews1 follower
May 22, 2015
Actually one of the best books I've ever read in the area of people management and about HR organization. Of course the book is filled with google anecdotes but if you filter out the propaganda there is a deep and very interesting understanding about performance management, about what drives people and result, about that you need to be unfair instead of looking at bell curves, about constant feedback and most interesting of all, lots and lots of examples of how to be data driven in your HR work.

This is an absolute must read for anyone working with HR or people operations on a strategic level.
Profile Image for Bożek.
102 reviews47 followers
July 31, 2020
Pranko móżdżku. Podejrzewam, że może to być troszkę bolesna książka, jeśli pracuje się w chusteczkowej firmie i ma się niekierownicze stanowisko, ale nie przebrnęłam przez początkowy BS.

Jesteś zwycięzcą.
Profile Image for Olga Pogynaiko.
173 reviews22 followers
January 10, 2018
Купила цю книжку торік на Форумі, прочитала в цьому році після Форуму (і то ще дуже добрий показник). Ласло Бок керує у Гуглі відділом кадрів, як це би називалося в Украні нині, якби люди навколо не запозичували бездумно слова й абревіатури. Тобто не знаю, чи досі керує, але коли кілька років тому писав цю книжку - точно керував. Відповідно, у своїй книжці він "розкриває секрети", як гугл побудував роботу зі своїми людьми так, що всі думають, що це - робота-мрія.
Фактично книжка написана для hr відділів чи просто для керівників (якщо у вас невелика компанія і немає hr відділу). Там багато речей, які будуть цікаві тільки цьому вузькому колу, але водночас багато й такого, що пригодиться практично всім, хто тільки не сидить на дивані без діла.
На перший погляд читачу здається, що Гугл - це якась кантора-мрія, головна мета якої - зробити співробітників щасливими. Для того вони придумують всякі фішки від преміювання акціями і пенсійної програми, до офіційного % робочого оплачуваного часу, який можна використати на власні проекти, доставки в офіс продуктів і приїзної перукарні ну і всякого такого. Але насправді все просто дуже добре пораховано, і Гугл знає, що щасливіший працівник продуктивніший, від менш щасливого, а той, хто чує себе співвласником - від того, хто тупо сидить з 9 до 18. Особисті проекти працівників часто перетворюються в успішні знахідки цілої кантори, а перекуси на кухнях так само часто - у такі собі неформальні виробничі наради. Гугл скрупульозно вимірює рівень щастя своїх працівників і він в курсі, що доставка продуктів на вечерю і перукарня по вівторках спрощує їхнє життя й економить час, так що можна затриматися на роботі (тим часом як самій роботі це не коштує нічого) :) Вони так часто пишуть фідбеки про рівень щастя, що в якийсь момент у мене виникло питання, коли ж вони працюють :)))
Словом, в цій книжці я почерпнула багато цікавих ідей, в тому числі і для Смо загалом і для себе зокрема. Дещо вже навіть спробувала і пересвідчилась, що воно працює :)
Рекомендую? Так. Головне не чекайте на книжку про чудеса, це книжка про роботу.
Profile Image for Emily.
Author 8 books24 followers
May 30, 2017
And lo, once again, I strongly dislike a well-reviewed book.

If you're completely new to the subject about modern techniques in software engineering management, then this book is not a bad introduction. It assumes you haven't read a million blogs, Joel on Software, all of the Software Engineering Quora, /r/programming... Much of what it suggests is quite new to older industries still running on 1980s models of management.

However, if you're fairly well versed in the subject, the book comes off as deeply arrogant, cheerleadery and preachy. I honestly couldn't figure out if the author was slightly dim or thought I, the reader, was kind of stupid. Whenever the author needs to pad for space, he goes on a name-dropping fiesta. It drips with Google's techno-libertarianism. It preaches that data science will solve all the people ills plaguing people management without ever accepting the reality that statistics come with their own confirmation bias. And it reveals a culture that claims to be all about team but is, under the warm fuzzies, quite brutal.

(Although it does have a chapter talking about what everyone should do -- when employees have a life event, they should _just go_ and the company support them. Honestly. Do this.)

There's good stuff under the cruft. This book could dissolve into a 20 page essay and be much more useful and actionable. Read the opening chapter, read the closing chapter, and skim the chapters with subjects of interest and then move on.
Profile Image for د.أمجد الجنباز.
Author 3 books772 followers
November 28, 2017
ترددت كثيرا في قراءة الكتاب. فالنصائح التي تكتبها الشركات عن طريقة عملها تكون مبتذلة وتحوي نصائح مثالية وغير مبنية على العلم وغير قابلة للتطبيق.

لكن هذه الكتاب مختلف، فنصائحه غير قابلة للتطبيق فعلا، لكنها ملهمة لأنه تم تطبيقها فعلا في جوجل

واضافت الكاتبة مصادر علمية وابحاث لتبرر لتلك النصائح والممارسات التي تقوم بها الشركة
7 reviews
January 24, 2018

This book is extremely recommended to three types of readers: First, managers, who will find it useful for developing talent and getting more value and productivity from their existing teams. Second, any HR professional who will find great insights about hiring, interviewing and empowering people, and lastly, any employee who wants to grow, “be a founder” (as Bock puts it) and achieve meaningful impact with their work. Personally, I think the book can also serve as a great branding book for anyone who wants to build a people-driven organization, that fosters a unique culture and community.

Despite the title, and Laszlo Bock’s position, this book is not about Google but rather an inside look on Google’s experience of implementing insights drawn from academic research (including behavioral economics, organizational psychology and business management, among others) or other companies’ experience (like GM or McKinsey). While it is true that the writer, naturally, advocates Google’s culture products and services (this is part of his life’s work after all), he is also very honest and forthcoming about Google’s failures and the mistakes.

More specifically, I found these ideas especially compelling:

1. The simple insight of always hiring people better than you. Companies believe that as they grow, they increasingly require more “labourers”, when in fact, the opposite is true - the more a company grows the more it requires talented people to maintain its success. This also connects with Bock’s idea of “becoming a founder” - meaning that not only at work (but also with family and friends) people want to leave their own, unique legacy and make a personal impact on a collective. Later, this also connects to academic research validating the importance of intrinsic motivations (like a belief in the company’s mission, values and people) over extrinsic motivations like pay or benefits.
2. The two tails chapter, in which Bock shows that people in organizations do not follow a normal distribution pattern but more of a power low distribution pattern. This happens since the hiring process is supposed to ensure that only the top people even enter the company. Therefore, the reality is that any company has a just a handful of superstars and a lot of more “average” or “weaker” employees. Bock’s solution for this is two-fold - first, he shows how paying unfairly to top talent is immensely important for retaining the best employees, and second he focuses on why it is paramount to focus on your weakest employees (which are not weak at all since they were hired in the first place) and help them find their place in the organization, grow and thrive.
3. The chapter on training is quite convincing in showing how companies actually save money by letting their employees teach and train one another. This follows the idea that the majority of a company’s budget should go to hiring, and not to training. The second part of this chapter follows a winning process for building a learning institution, which starts by practicing simple tasks, getting very detailed, timely and meaningful feedback, and eventually testing training results based on employees’ behavioral change instead of just testing knowledge.
4. The illuminating chapter on Google’s hiring process which attempts to avoid the inevitable interview bias and favoritism. Candidates evaluation comes from many sources, including third parties and people from unrelated fields and departments.
5. The separation of performance and development, followed by the separation of pay discussions and performance reviews. Bock shows the behavioral and psychological effects this standardized, formal procedures have on employees, and explains how to avoid them buy tweaking and playing with the timing and nature of feedback. For me, this managed to show the difference between “HR”, top-to-bottom corporate thinking and “People Operations” - which views these procedures from the employees standpoint. This whole process is sliced and deconstructed even further with a very useful “calibration” mechanism that essentially “filters” any feedback that is unjustified, counterproductive or just not constructive enough.

The book is written in a very straight-forward style (it actually reads like a TED talk on occasion) and makes for a very smooth and easy read. I also found it useful that every chapter has a Google-style checklist that summarizes the main ideas. This style makes it read more like a guide-book sometimes, but you’ll soon find out it is a very convincing, data and research-driven guide book, with invaluable lessons for the way you think about work and life.
Profile Image for Daniel Pomian.
11 reviews2 followers
March 23, 2022
It's a superb book; I have enjoyed every page of it from start to finish.

It feels to simple, so natural, so common & good sense - it is about being human and about bringing and living your humanity at your working place, alongside with your peers, colleagues and work partners.

It is about shaping your work environment according to your values - and it is about showing the Google journey and experiences on that. With goods and bads, with ups and downs, with learnings, with aha moments, with many other things powered the belief that people are good and that by trusting people we can achieve a lot.

"The heart of this book is my belief that you can choose what type of organization you want to create, and I’ve shown you some of the tools to do so."

"All it takes is a belief that people are fundamentally good—and enough courage to treat your people like owners instead of machines. Machines do their jobs; owners do whatever is needed to make their companies and teams successful."

"The fundamental lesson from Google’s experience is that you must first choose whether you want to be a founder or an employee. It’s not a question of literal ownership. It’s a question of attitude."
Profile Image for Lori Tatar.
601 reviews63 followers
May 2, 2015
I received Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock from Goodreads and am so glad I did! This book will take what you "know" about leadership and employees and throw it out the window.

Okay, sure, there are inevitably people who will need to be micro-managed...but you don't want them to be your employees. Learn to manage how you like to be managed. Learn to encourage productivity and remove obstacles instead of drilling down to the minutiae of every day. Lead instead of drive. The results are waiting to happen, and when your employees own them, the results are more savory than ever.

You can rule like an overlord, or you can be a mentor and coach. You can trust your employees or you can permeate a culture of distrust and selfishness. In an open, honest environment, employees and leaders alike own the problems, the solutions and the results. It is easier to be a team when everyone is a member. Ideas will be shared more freely, results will be more immediate and creativity will abound.

This is a must-read for anyone who is on the fast-track for 21st century innovation and solutions.
Profile Image for Sergei_kalinin.
451 reviews160 followers
September 17, 2015
Просто отличная книга по управлению персоналом! Настоящий must read для руководителей и менеджеров по персоналу!
Книга даёт довольно подробное представление о том, как работает HR-подразделение Google (People Ops). Раскрываются современные методики и техники(частично, но специалисту достаточно ;)) управления персоналом. Отличный баланс научных фактов и прикладных экспериментов над сотрудниками Google.
Подробная рецензия (фактически мини-конспект получился :)) в моем блоге: http://s-kalinin.blogspot.ru/2015/09/...
Profile Image for Steve.
962 reviews98 followers
August 4, 2017
This book was given to me by my supervisor with the intent that I would find some takeaways that we could apply to our office.

This was an interesting read, and the author provided many, many anecdotes supporting his main statements. It was well-written, and there are indeed several things that could be applied to an workplace, large or small. Google isn't a perfect company by any means, but they do good by their employees, that's for sure.
Profile Image for Gwen (The Gwendolyn Reading Method).
1,616 reviews478 followers
June 19, 2017
While I haven't quite drank the kool-aid that Google is the bestest place ever to work and has HR all figured out, they certainly have studied it more than anyone else and this book is thought-provoking and definitely gets the juices flowing on better ways to do things!
Profile Image for Eirika.
56 reviews1 follower
June 13, 2015
Read the two-three sentence summaries at the end of each chapter, skip the rest.
Profile Image for Chinara Ahmadova.
350 reviews105 followers
January 21, 2020
Çoxdandır bu qədər axıcı, hədəfə dəyən, günün nəbzini tutan və faydalı məsləhətlərlə zəngin biznes kitabı oxumamışdım. Özüm üçün 60-dan çox hissəsini xəttləyib bəzi məsləhətləri sınamağı düşünürəm.

Googleda uzun müddət İnsan Əməliyyatları üzrə Vitse Prezident vəzifəsində çalışan Laszlo Bok sandığı açıb Google şirkətini Ən yaxşı işverən adlandıranların heç də əbəs yerə bunu etmədiklərini göstərir, daxili təcrübə və sınaqlarından danışır. Özəlliklə, People Lab dedikləri araşdırma/sınaq şöbəsinin işçilərin üzərində apardıqları sosial elmi/biznes araşdırmaları yadda qalan oldu.

Oxuduqca düşündürən, dəfələrlə oxunması lazım mütaliədi, əlbəttə əgər biznes sektorundasınızsa :)
Profile Image for Suzanne.
219 reviews35.9k followers
July 20, 2015
Great read - lots of valuable information presented in an engaging way, with just the right amount of humor. Kudos to Laszlo Bock for being so willing to share what they've learned works at Google.

One interesting sidenote: Google uses OKRs (Objectives and Key Results) to set its business goals. John Doerr, from Kleiner Perkins, introduced this system to Google when the company was only a year old. He also introduced them to Amazon. Part of me is wondering just how many other companies have been influenced by Doerr in this way. You can learn more about OKRs here: https://www.gv.com/lib/how-google-set...

I also have to share this: Google offers five months of maternity leave. New parents receive full salary, bonus and stock vesting for the entire time they are on leave. Plus $500 bonus to help make life a bit easier - eg. ordering home delivery of meals for the first few weeks. What data did they use to make the decision to offer this? When they looked at attrition for women after childbirth, it was twice their average attrition rate. They found that many moms coming back to work after 12 weeks felt "stressed, tired, and sometimes guilty." After Google introduced the new leave, the difference in attrition rates vanished. Interestingly, moms were often using the extra two months to transition slowly back to work, which helped make them more effective and happier when the leave ended.

“When we eventually did the math, it turned out this program cost nothing. The cost of having a mom out of the office for an extra couple of months was more than offset by the value of retaining her expertise and avoiding the cost of finding and training a new hire."

I also thought this was good perspective for thinking about culture in a company:

"If you embark down this path [culture of transparency, etc], the road will be bumpy. Culture isn’t static. Googles, for example, have said: 'Google’s culture is changing and it’s not the company I joined anymore.' 'I remember when we had just a few hundred people - it was a totally different company. Now we feel like any other big company.' 'We’re just not a fun place anymore.'

Each of these quotations is from someone bemoaning that Google has lost its way.

The first quote is from the year 2000 (less than a few hundred employees), the second from 2006 (six thousand employees) and the last is from 2012 (fifty thousand employees - especially ironic because the word Googlers most used to describe Google’s culture in that year was “fun”!) In fact, at every point in Google’s history, there has been a sense that the culture was degrading. Almost every Googler longs for the halcyon days of Google’s youth … which they tend to define as what Google was like in their first few months. This is a reflection of both how wonderfully inspiring the first few months at Google can be and how quickly Google continues to evolve.
We enjoy a constant paranoia about losing the culture, and a constant, creeping sign of dissatisfaction with the current culture. That is a good sign! This feeling of teetering on the brink of losing our culture causes us to be vigilant about threats to it. I’d be concerned if people stopped worrying.
One way to address this worry is to be open to the discussion and to channel any frustration into efforts to bolster the culture."

Highly recommended read.

Profile Image for Sebastian Gebski.
933 reviews800 followers
September 10, 2015
Damn you Googlers!

It's the 3rd book "by-Googler-about-Google" I've read & it's at least as good as the prev ones ("How Google Tests Software" & "How Google Works") - and most likely even better. Quite surprisingly, because it's written by an HR guy & it presents his perspective (which is obviously insanely extensive & thorough, but it's not an engineering perspective - something that majority of readers expects).

Anyway. Pros:
* tons of RL examples & stories - not trivial ones that could & have happened around you, but some that really nicely describe Google's values, culture & mindsets
* very practical advices through whole book - it's a set praising mumble-memoires without rhyme or reason, but a well structured & thought synthesis of Google HR philosophy
* it doesn't avoid most tricky (& quite internal) topics like compensation, evaluations & career development
* chapter 13 rocks -> it's the one about things that didn't work, about the consequences of Google's courageous approach to give more freedom to people, etc. It seems very honest & it does a lot to make the book more credible

* chapter 12 (Nudge) is the least clear one - there were moments when I had an impression that either author's idea was not 100% polished (maybe he wanted to express too much in this one topic) or maybe the concept was too vague & it needed a better intro

No other cons detected. Seriously, get this book - it's ridiculously good. What DOESN'T mean you can read it & transform your company to next Google on the very next day, but it will sure make you thinking.
Profile Image for Pritesh.
35 reviews30 followers
November 27, 2017
Interesting insights on how Google works, Googlers make decisions and learn from their wins and losses. A couple things that stood out for me were 1) the willingness to experiment - there are always a number of small experiments running. Without the fear of, we may be stuck with this if it does not work. 2) Learning and systemizing from what makes the successful people successful in Google. Overall a good read. Can be a tad self congratulatory at times :)

My notes.

1. Checklist for managers is very useful.
2. Checklist for new hires. Newglers
3. Crises is an opportunity to have an impact. Always spend time on crises
4. Don’t be shy about admitting a mistake. Teach the moral behind the mistake
5. Separate in space & time performance discussions from development discussions.
6. Focus on the 2 tails. What are your best people doing well?
7. A lot of things follow the power law distribution. There is a tendency to classify patterns as a bell curve
8. Figure out where we can save and save some more
9. Run a large number of small experiments.
10. People are happy when they receive what they asked for. They are delighted when we anticipate and provide what that they did not ask for.
11. Give people more trust & authority then what you are comfortable with. If you are comfortable then you are not giving enough

13 reviews2 followers
February 2, 2016
This book ‘Work Rules’ by Laszlo Block is very nice book and its regarding the work culture, recruitment process and regarding the performance management in Google. Best part which i like was their recruitment process in google - they take lot of effort to take their googlers because they conceder their employees as a valuable resource. They all do lot of activities in google to develop go oglers skill by ask question from different department so the employees will start learning from something which is no where related. Overall book was very nice and interesting. I recommend this book to everyone. Thanks.
Profile Image for Lukasz Nalepa.
131 reviews13 followers
December 14, 2018
Without a doubt, this is THE most valuable book I have read this year. Goes directly to my "must read" shelf, that I'm constantly recommending to everone I know :) For me, this book is not necessarily about Google, or HR department. This book is about how to stay sane and humane on daily basis. Moreover, many ideas in this book just lay there and beg to be implemented! :)
70 reviews7 followers
October 2, 2016
Very insightful and interesting on how one could build successful company. I'm not fan of heavyweight performance review process, but Google's data driven approach to run HR people operations is amazing.
Focus on hiring great talent is also something that every executive should read about.
Profile Image for Denis Vasilev.
616 reviews87 followers
April 29, 2018
Показательный пример ошибки выжившего. Люди хотят работать в Гугл потому что она успешна, но не каждая компания работающая по принципам гугл станет успешной. Неплохой раздел про найм и мысли про нематериальную мотивацию, частью взятые у других авторов.
Profile Image for Azzaz Akl.
12 reviews11 followers
April 7, 2019
For HR professionals and People who want to learn how to live and lead reading this book.
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