Categorized | the strategy notebook

Why Google employees quit

TechCrunch has an excellent article on why Google employees quit and reproduces an entire thread from an online group Google set up for employees who were quitting. Believe it or not, there are some remarkable leadership, management, and start-up lessons to be culled from the employee posts they reproduce (and, of course, if you for one minute swallowed all that jazz about how perfect Google employment might be, maybe you need a short swallow of this tiny bit of reality to realize that Google is, after all, on Google Earth just like the rest of us).

A rare treasure — unfiltered employee evaluations of one of the most innovative companies in the world. If you’re involved in a high-growth start-up — or you have one on the drawing boards, this archive deserves a close reading — good as well as bad employee evaluations of the company. More after the break.

One of the most common and striking threads in the posts is the observation that Google hires remarkably talented and innovative people and then don’t use them to their fullest ability or, worse, stick them with bad management.

Just as Google can be a great place for the software engineer to do great work unencumbered, it’s also possible for a manger to be a complete jerk unencumbered.

The following post could have been written by any one of dozens of employees I’ve met or worked with in high-energy growth start-ups when they begin to ossify into actual, stable companies:

Google was my first job out of college. I was an English major at a prestigious college and was hired to work in HR. That is one of the problems I had with Google right there – is it really necessary to hire Ivy League graduates to process paperwork? I went from reading Derrida to processing “Status Change Request Forms” for X employees to go on paid leave. The term “Status Change Request Form” will forever haunt me.

Whenever I consult with small businesses, I bash into this very problem repeatedly. I see talented, entrepreneurial, creative, aggressive bosses and business owners who hire talented, entrepreneurial, creative, aggressive employees, and then underutilize them, particularly when the business grows to a point where “structure” becomes a key element to success. When you hire real talent, real entrepreneurial spirit, you’re hiring employees as a source of “profit”; but business, especially as it become big, often requires employees as “functions.” That represents a real loss of value both for the employee and the business. And I mean value with a capital “$.”

One comment particularly struck me (here’s an employee no great company would want to lose):

One last thing: Google also thinks inside a box (the browser).

Any entrepreneur out there taking notes? Microsoft, maybe?

Hats off to Thomas Paul for the tip.

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