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Work Rules! (Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead) Hardcover – Illustrated, April 1, 2015
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"An intriguing profile of an innovative company that continues to shake up the world."―Kirkus Reviews
"Good guidance from the head of Google's innovative People Operations, who wants to show companies how to attract and keep the best managers...Love the read-it-two-ways title."―Library Journal
"Anecdotes about Google's founding and history mingle with discussions of management theory, psychology, and behavioral economics to create a fascinating and accessible read."―Publishers Weekly
"WORK RULES! delivers on its promise. Befitting a volume written deep within the algorithm factory, WORK RULES! is dense with data and counterintuitive conclusions for anyone looking to make the workplace a better place."―Forbes
From the visionary head of Google's innovative People Operations--a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring the best and brightest succeed. The praise for WORK RULES! includes the following bestselling authors and top flight executives:
"WORK RULES! offers a bold, inspiring, and actionable vision that will transform the future of work. It should be mandatory reading for everyone who leads, manages, or has a job."
Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code
"Laszlo Bock's book is a dazzling revelation: at once an all-access backstage pass to one of the smartest organizations on the planet, and also an immensely useful blueprint for creating a culture of creativity. It should be given to every leader, every entrepreneur, every manager, every student, and every human being who wants to understand how to build a successful, cohesive, high-performing workplace."
Dan Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human
"Laszlo Bock has written a remarkable book that reveals the secrets of becoming a talent powerhouse. He shows the many benefits of a high freedom culture with a mission that matters. And along the way, he topples pillar after pillar of conventional wisdom on hiring, training, assessing, and compensating the people who power your organization. If you're looking for forehead-smacking insights along with an array of savvy new practices, WORK RULES! is an essential read."
Susan Cain, co-founder of Quiet Revolution and author of Quiet
"WORK RULES! is spectacular. I spent weeks with it, because I wanted to take such careful, detailed notes. I plan to share it with our entire Quiet Revolution team-and I'm sure that all company founders will do the same."
Ram Charan, coauthor of Execution and advisor to boards and CEOs
"WORK RULES! is an exceptional book aimed at any manager who wants great ideas for encouraging success from their team . . . an instant classic for the management shelf."
Indra K. Nooyi, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo
"With a clear-eyed, data-driven look into today's workplace, Bock reveals the non-traditional practices that can fundamentally transform businesses of all kinds."
Tom Gardner, founder and CEO, Motley Fool
"The finest book on organizational culture that I have ever read. WORK RULES! is the essential playbook for creating high-performance cultures that liberate people to do their most important work."
John Doerr, managing director, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
"WORK RULES! is more than a must-read business book. It's a handbook for high-performance teams that win."
Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Leadership B.S.
"Some will think that WORK RULES! is a book about Google. It is, but mostly it is much more: a book about how to build people operating systems that permit any organization to get the smartest decisions from their workforce. Clearly written, evidence-based, with practical guidance and a cogent underlying philosophy, WORK RULES! needs to rule the world of work."
Peter H. Diamandis, chairman, XPRIZE; exec. chairman, Singularity
"WORK RULES! is a surprising, unconventional book that is required reading for anyone looking for a job in the tech sector, and for every entrepreneur seeking new modes of innovative thinking."
Robert I. Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao, co-authors of Scaling up Excellence
"A riveting ringside view of people operations at Google. A deft marriage of research and practice that is full of practical tips. It is an indispensable book for all people managers."
Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO and author of Change By Design
"As a company renowned for questioning our assumptions, it should be no surprise that Google has developed unique and profoundly effective approaches to culture, talent and leadership. By debunking many accepted HR practices WORK RULES! establishes itself as a new testament for managing talent in modern times."
Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers and Rookie Smarts
"Laszlo Bock has done far more than codify Google's recipe for its high-freedom, high-performance workplace, he has created the essential guide for unleashing talent in the digital age. Intelligent, playful, and practical, WORK RULES! is for all leaders who want to inspire brilliance and bring out the best of humanity in their workforce."
About the Author
During Bock's tenure, Google was named the Best Company to Work For more than thirty times around the world and received more than 100 awards as an employer of choice. In 2010, he was named Human Resources Executive of the Year by Human Resources Executive magazine.
- Publisher : Twelve; 1st edition (April 1, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 416 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1455554790
- ISBN-13 : 978-1455554799
- Item Weight : 1.4 pounds
- Best Sellers Rank: #18,232 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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- Operate on the belief that people are fundamentally good
- Use groups of peers or independent teams for: hiring, promotions, salary increases, awards, and firing (often excluding the direct manager)
- Managers exist to: (a) make tie-breaking decisions (b) coach/train to develop employees (c) care about people's well-being (d) set vision/strategy (e) provide technical advice (f) empower by clearing roadblocks
- Conduct 2x-per-year performance reviews on a 5-point scale and then calibrate (which are separate from continuous feedback); get 360 feedback on ‘do more of’ and ‘do differently’ 1x per year
- Make all goals (objectives and key results) public
- Design physical spaces to encourage interaction across departments
- Help employees meet the people they are helping
- Ensure transparency (in all matters unless unlawful)
- Only hire people who are better than you, who will be successful in the context of your organization, and who will make everyone around them more successful
- Referrals from existing employees are the best source of candidates
- Couple assessments of cognitive/problem-solving/learning ability, conscientiousness, and emergent leadership/fit with structured interviews that are job related: (a) Tell me about a time..? (b) What would you do if…? Note: 4 interviews are sufficient
- Eliminate status symbols
- Pay bonuses based on the median salary of all people in a job
- Have people who are the best at something train everyone else (share principles, role-play, discuss, review video of role-play)
- Make pay commensurate with contribution (following a power law rather than a normal distribution)
- Provide experiential rewards (as a complement to monetary awards)
- Celebrate accomplishment with public recognition
- Reward smart failure and make sure to conduct “what did we learn?” post-mortem sessions
- Provide nudges to influence, not dictate, choice
- Uphold the obligation to dissent (a McKinsey core value)
- Treasure the weird
- Put more wood behind fewer arrows
- Building a great culture requires constant experimentation and renewal
Various programs and processes:
- TGIF: weekly all company meeting to share updates plus 30 minutes of Q&A
- Dogfooding: Have employees test new products and provide feedback before piloting with customer
- Bureaucracy Busters: annual program to identify and fix biggest frustrations
- Upward Feedback Survey: 2x per year survey about manager quality
- 20 Percent time: time for people to engage in side-projects (often 120% time)
- Googlegeist: Annual survey focused heavily on innovation, execution, and retention
- Tech Advisor: network of experienced leaders offering confidential, one-on-one office hours
- Random Lunches: set people up with others they don’t yet know
- Tech Talks: Employees sharing work (and non-work) expertise
- Talks at Google: Outsider (ex: authors, business leaders, entertainers, etc.) sharing their wisdom
So, why not five stars? A few reasons. One is that there is a lot of space devoted to self-promotion of Google, which while not unexpected in a book written by Google's head of People Ops, doesn't add much to the reader's experience. Another is that a good chunk of the content is likely to already be very familiar to readers -- Bock spends a lot of time explaining what a normal distribution is, for example, or describing the Employee Resource Groups (i.e., various affiliation groups like the veteran's group or the parents' group) that are extremely common at companies of Google's size. The third problem is that "it's the economy, stupid" -- some of the content around hiring and compensation is likely specific to Google's particular situation, its success, the labor market and so forth when at the time covered by the book, and is probably not universally valid. The final problem is that while a lot of the "tactical" level advice is highly evidence-based, several of the high-level ideas, such as "it is better to hire the very best people than to hire merely okay people and train them" or "it makes sense to pay your best engineers an order of magnitude more than other engineers at the same level" or even "whiteboard coding interviews are a good way of assessing candidates" have very, very little evidence provided to support them. In many cases the evidence for these claims is based on a combination of cherry-picked anecdotes, one or two studies done decades ago and not on engineers, and a reasonable-sounding argument that makes sense until you realize that you could make an equally reasonable-sounding argument in the opposite direction. I would love to see a book that really picks apart and tests some of these assumptions.
That said, it's a fun read with a decent amount of useful advice, which makes it a very solid four stars.
Even though this is not an academic/scientific review, the book provides well stated and clear points for the HR brave hearts to find improvement areas and ideas.
I do recommend the book, it is well worth the time to read it and I enjoyed the book.
Top reviews from other countries
This book would also be interesting to anyone that is involved in an interviewing process (chapters 3, 4 and 5) or an employee review process (chapter 7). i.e. most professionals at some point in their career and I will be using the lessons from this book in my next interview process and I’m sure I will have a better chance of hiring a better candidate because of it.
Here’s what I took from the book
• Google fosters an environment where work is meaningful and employees and their families are looked after.
• Linking emotion and moral motivation to employees’ roles can radically improve performance
• Recruiting in the typical way will result in average hires and average performance
• The highest return on time and money is investing in your recruitment process to hire better people. Spend a disproportionate amount of money finding and hiring great people.
• Hiring bad people requires significant resources to coach or extricate them from the business
• Hiring exclusively for smarts is also not the correct approach. You will miss out on many valuable people.
• Academic performance doesn’t predict job performance for more than the first few years in a job after university
• Your existing employees are a very useful way of finding new employees through referrals and referencing.
• Research shows that interviewers often make a decision on a candidate within the first seconds of an interview
• Interviews are a terrible leading indicator of performance. Studies show that unstructured interviews explain 14% of performance vs work experience (3%), work sample test (29%), general cognitive ability (26%) and structured interviews (26%)
• Use a standardised list of questions to create a styructured interview and improve your chances of success.
• Incremental interviews show diminishing returns for predicting performance. 4 interviews is a good number
• Google has a few key rules for hiring people:
o Set a high bar for quality. Hire people that are better than you. Never compromise
o Find your own candidates and don’t rely on headhunters
o Assess candidates objectively using structured interviews, references etc
o Sell yourself effectively to candidates
• Google give employees 20% of their time to work on individual projects
• Men often have higher salaries than their female counterparts because they are more likely to ask for a raise
• Use data extensively by collecting feedback and using this feedback to predict problems before they happen
• Conduct feedback sessions and pay review sessions separately
On feedback and remuneration
• Conduct feedback sessions and pay review sessions separately
• Most companies don’t pay their best people enough because they don’t understand how valuable they are
• Pay your top people very well
I really enjoyed it, although you might not buy into everything, it is set out clearly, persuasively, in a fun and balanced way. My main problem with the book was that it was so relentlessly upbeat and positive, that I felt the need for something a bit more acerbic to balance out the syrupy sentiments. Accordingly I read this as a double act with Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus, and found it an engaging and informative duo.
Clearly not everyone will want to read a book of this length about human resources management, but there is a wealth of insight and innovation here demonstrating that HR need not be the dismal cul de sac where nice but useless folk end up.