Earlier this week, Michael Arrington at TechCrunch managed to get his mitts on some rather juicy inside information from Google. Turns out that the tech darling isn’t the career paradise that it’s been made out to be. For all the gushing that us outsiders did over their innovative benefits and employment practices, perhaps it was all just hyperbole. From the post:
One message stands out though in most of the posts – employees thought they were entering the promised land when they joined Google, and most of them were disappointed. Some of them wondered if it meant they were somehow lacking. One person sums it all up nicely:
“Those of us who failed to thrive at Google are faced with some pretty serious questions about ourselves. Just seeing that other people ran into the same issues is a huge relief. Google is supposed to be some kind of Nirvana, so if you can’t be happy there how will you ever be happy? It’s supposed to be the ultimate font of technical resources, so if you can’t be productive there how will you ever be productive?”
There are some cautionary lessons to be extracted from this if you’re not only on the hook for your organization’s employer branding but employee engagement.
The reality doesn’t match the expectation. This is a failure of the brand to deliver the expected experience. Consumers rail against companies that deliver poor brand experiences, particularly when the brand has been hyped to the nth degree (e.g., Chevrolet, Sprint, Microsoft Vista). So, why does employer branding get a relatively free pass?
Individuals wanted to work for Google because it was supposed to be different than the norm, had innovative benefits, promoted a fun workplace, etc., etc. Turns out that maybe these were a clever facade masking a workplace and company that were just humdrum. If you want to sell the sizzle, that steak better not come out limp and soggy.
Professional failing is personal failure. It pisses me off when I hear stuff like this. Why? Because there’s a hellacious management problem here that no one is apparently trying to resolve. If a manager is going to wear the big hat and call him- or herself a leader, they better start with making sure that their people are getting what they need to be – and feel – successful. If an employee is struggling with their work, you better believe that’s likely going to get internalized as a “personal” problem. It’s a one-way ticket to not only poor engagement but a morale freefall.
When the going gets tough, uniqueness gets crushed. Yeah, I know…it’s tough out there for business. I get it. Now get over it. Everybody’s impacted so don’t think for a second that you’re special (hell, even Microsoft is laying folks off). So rather than curl up in a ball do something that none of your competition is likely thinking about right now: become even more unique and remarkable. Trust me, your competitor is hoping you’ll lay low like them. Instead, do something that will make their management wet themselves. Actually engage in employer branding. Build a workplace model where the people you have are doing their best not because they’re scared to death they’ll lose their job tomorrow if they don’t, but because they genuinely care about their work and their organization. Go out and look for the talent that’s looking for a place to make a difference (there’s plenty of good folks out there now).
Don’t waste this perfectly good opportunity. Be a leader, show some guts, and build something special when no one else appears to be doing it.