What We Can Learn from Google’s Empowered Culture

by Colin Shaw on August 27, 2014

In 2014, Google topped the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work for list, a place that they have been happy to occupy every year since 2012. But it’s hardly a surprise, because Googlers are an empowered team. The empowered culture that Google has created is exactly the kind of culture that creates an excellent customer experience.

Great Customer Experiences Are Enabled through Inspirational Leadership.

Organizational cultures, both positive and negative and the effects that they have on the customer experience. “The Seven Philosophies of Building Great Customer Experience” break down the customer experience into 7 different parts and stress the critical role that leaders, culture and people play in the building of great ones.

Google Is an Empowered Culture

For today’s post,  I want to focus on the fourth philosophy, which is:

Great Customer Experiences are enabled through inspirational leadership, an empowering culture and empathetic people who are happy and fulfilled.

When you read the fourth philosophy, it’s no surprise that Googlers feel that way about where they work. Larry Page, CEO and Co Founder of Google had this to say about building a great company culture:

“It’s important that the company be a family, that people feel that they’re part of the company and that the company is like a family to them. When you treat people that way, you get better productivity.”

Google clearly has happy people. In the recent survey of 1301 employees, employees gave Google a 99% rating on great challenges, which includes training and chances at advancement. Google also scored 99% approval on atmosphere, great rewards, great pride of working there. In addition they scored 98% on great communication and great bosses.

One employee was quoted in the survey as saying:

“Innovation is the driver of everything we do. I can take pride in that. No one settles for less than their best.”

And innovate, they do. An example I wrote about  recently is the Google Help Outs, a service where users can ask experts via video for help with a project. Innovation is so key at Google that Page did a TED Talk about it in March Earlier this year.

How to Google Your Culture

Google are experts in how to treat people. My nephew works for them in San Francisco. They have free food, places where you can have a nap and more excellent perks.

It’s worth mentioning when you are making pots of money like Google does then it much easier to do loads of things for the staff.

So maybe you don’t have nap pods at your work, or even free food or drink. That’s okay though. Most of the Googlers say in the article on greatrated.com that while they love the rewards of their jobs, they are equally excited about “working with smart people in a well run organization.” In this case, I would say well-run is the same as creating an empowered culture.

Empowered Cultures Create Empowered Employees

I define an empowered culture as the type of organization where policies are determined by the people who are encouraged to make their own decisions to create great customer experiences. In organizational cultures that are empowered, the employees are given responsibility to see a situation through to the end and management is less formal and open to positive criticism.

Empowered cultures are easy to spot if you know what to look for:

  • The employees are valued and believe that their voice counts.

  • They seem to have a sense of purpose, both on and off campus.

  • They work harder to promote the company’s objectives because they feel a sense of ownership in them.

  • They are proud of where they work and take their responsibilities seriously.

Customers know when they are dealing with an organization where they employees are empowered also:

  • They can feel it when the employees make decisions on the spot.

  • They benefit from the follow-through from the decisions that the employee made.

  • They feel that instead of talking to just one of the team that they are talking to the owner.

What Google Knows and We All Can Learn from Them

A word that is overused, empowered means “to give power to or authorize”. You need to empower your team to get the kind of results that Google gets.

It can be hard to let go of the reigns, and trust your employees to do what’s right by the customer. Google shows us that when you do it the right way with the right people, you get excellent results. You can release potential for innovation that you have never dreamed was possible in the past.

Page had this to say about his role as a leader:

“My job as a leader is to make sure everybody in the company has great opportunities, and that they feel they’re having a meaningful impact and are contributing to the good of society. As a world, we’re doing a better job of that. My goal is for Google to lead, not follow that.”

So as a leader in your organization, it is your job to let go and give your team the opportunity to have the same empowered experience. Then your people can do their job of making your customer experience one that I write about in my next book.

How do you empower your employees in your culture?

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Colin Shaw is the founder and CEO of Beyond Philosophy, one of the world’s first organizations devoted to customer experience. Colin is an international author of four bestselling books and an engaging keynote speaker. To read more from Colin on LinkedIn, connect with him by clicking the follow button above or below. If you would like to follow Beyond Philosophy click here

Follow Colin Shaw on Twitter @ColinShaw_CX

 

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