Disgruntled Employees Reveal Dark Side of Google

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Disgruntled Employees Reveal Dark Side of Google

Google takes particular pride in being considered one of the world’s best companies to work for. Employees are pampered at on-site massage areas, told to spend twenty per cent of their time doing whatever they want and enjoy free sushi and ice cream for lunch. But it seems this isn’t for everyone. A stream of emails from disgruntled ex-Google employees has emerged, revealing that even the most modern of workplaces faces the same old complaints from workers: low pay, too many hours, incompetent managers, a lack of fringe benefits and a hiring process that kept many in limbofor months. Overall, the messages showed that many considered getting a job at Google akin to reaching the promised land, only to become bitterly disappointed at what they found there.

“You read so much about how amazing it is to work for Google and for the first two years it was,” wrote Scott who worked for the company in London. “Before I left, it was a place full of quiet moans, talented people being undermined and a structure that created hostilityandpolitics.” The emails were sent to Google last year, when the company asked a number of ex-employees why they decided to quit. The private, often brutally honest, correspondence was leaked to the popular TechCrunch blog, where it was published edited only to avoid identifying the workers involved. One former staff member alleged that employees were promised a better benefits package, only for the Chairman and Chief Executive to abandon this pledge when told how many millions it would cost. Others, however, defended the company from such complaints, saying that practices at Google were considerably better than those at other firms.

But the reasons for leaving Google were many and various. Some said that they could have easily been paid more elsewhere, such as rival Microsoft, but the kudos of having Google on their CV’s convinced them to stay on. Others said they left because their managers were “jerks”, while one worker said she left the company “exhausted and processing a lot of stress”. “Google is supposed to be some kind of Nirvana,” wrote a former employee. “The truth is that Google can be a really horrible place to work if you happen to run up against its shortcomings.”

The vast majority were left bitter by a hiring process that took months to complete and involved micro-management from the very top – with one of Google’s co-founders still reviewing the resumesof allprospective employees.

A Google spokesman admitted the recruitment procedure did take time, but said: “We believe it’s worth it. If you hire great people and involve them intensively in the hiring process, you’ll get more great people." Even the perks, such as a free canteen that offers everything from roast dinners to healthy salads, comes at a cost. “If you were staying for dinner, it better be because you were working afterwards,” warned one worker who claimed only workaholics were likely to be promoted. The complaints are in sharp contrast to Google’s public image. Last year, the company was named the UK’s best workplace and the Best Company to Work For in the US.

Google offices are legendary for their quirks and perks. In the plush London offices, Google workers are given free massages every month and there is a games room and Yoga studio on site. In Zurich, workers use a fireman’s pole to move between floors and hold meetings in “arctic pods”. In, California, prominent speakers such as Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton have been known to pop by to give talks. But lately, some of the shine has begun to come off the company. Last week, it axed 100 posts worldwide, the first significant job cuts in its 11-year history. A Google spokesman said: “Of course there will always be a small number of ex-employees for whom Google may not have been a perfect fit but for the vast majority of employees this is not the case.”

                                                                                                       M. Ahmed. Times Online

Practicum 3.6

Translate the italicized parts of Text 3a into Russian

Practicum 3.7

Practicum 3.8

Find in the text above the vocabulary relating to office environment. Employ it in sentences of your own

Practicum 3.9

Practicum 3.10

PracticeExpressing Embarrassment / Confusion strategyin the following situation (to be done in writing)

A Google ex-employee, writing an E-mail to his former colleague, expresses his embarrassment  as regards awarding end-of-the-year bonuses practices.

Practicum 3.11

Voice Embarrassment / Confusion over the following situations

-an applicant is confused about the a hiring process that kept him in limbo for months;

-a Google manager is confused about the company’s structure that created hostility and politics;

-an ex-employee claims to have been promised a better benefits package and expresses his embarrassment.

III. Communication Practice

Team work

A team of employees is to design a written appeal to the CEO expressing their embarrassment over the frictions in the office that seem to be provoked by the management style. Rely on ExpressingEmbarrassment / Confusionstrategy.

Text 3b

The text to follow deals in talking office policies / politics. Study the text and use it as a starting point for communication

The Human Factor

In the management of a small team, the human factor is crucial to success. This article considers possible motivators and a simple framework for dealing with people

When you are struggling with a deadline or dealing with delicate decisions, the last thing you want to deal with is "people". When the fight is really on and the battle is undecided, you want your team to act co-operatively, quickly, rationally; you do not want a disgruntled employee bitching about life, you do not want a worker who avoids work, you do not want your key engineer being tired all day because the baby cries all night. But this is what happens, and as a manager you have to deal with it. Few "people problems" can be solved quickly, some are totally beyond your control; but you do have influence over many factors which affect your people and so it is your responsibility to ensure that your influence is a positive one. As the leader of a team, you have the authority to sanction, encourage or restrict most aspects of their working day, and this places you in a position of power and responsibility. You need to adapt yourself and the work environment so that your team and the company are both enriched. The article outlines a simple model of behaviour and a systematic approach to analysing how you can exert your influence to help your team to work.

Consider your behaviour. Suppose (as a good supportive manager) you often give public praiseforindependence and initiative displayed by your team, and suppose you respond brusquely to questions and interruptions. What will happen? Probably your team will leave you alone. They will not raise problems (you will be left in the dark), they will not question your instructions (ambiguities will remain), they will struggle on bravely (and feel unsupported). Your simple behaviour may result in errors, misdirected activityandutter frustration. So if you do want to hear about problems, tell the team so and react positively when you hear of problems in time rather than too late.

When thinking about motivation it is important to take the long-term view. What you need is tomaintain enthusiasm and commitment from your team. As the manager, you set the targets – and in selecting these targets, you have a dramatic effect upon your team's sense of achievement. If you make them too hard, the team will feel failure; if too easy, the team feels little. Ideally, you should provide a series of targets which are easily recognised as stages towards the ultimate completion of the task. Thus progress is punctuated and celebrated with small but marked achievements. If you stretch your staff, they know you know they can meet that challenge.

Recognition is about feeling appreciated, preferably by the whole team as well as by you, the manager. The feedback you give your team about their work is fundamental to their motivation. They should know what they do well (be positive), what needs improving (be constructive) and what is expected of them in the future (something to aim at). Your staff need to know where they stand, and how they are performing against your expectations. You can achieve this through a structured review system, the best time to give feedback is when the event occurs; the feedback should be honest, simple, and always constructive.

The work itself should be challenging, because it makes your staff actually engage their attention; maintains the interest and provides a sense of personal achievement when the job is done. But there is always the boring and mundane to be done. This is a management problem for you to solve. Make sure that everyonehas a share of the interesting and of the dull and match tasks to people; and possibly share the worst tasks around. For instance, taking minutes in meetings is dull on a weekly basis but quite interesting/educational once every six weeks.

Of all positive motivators, responsibility is the most lasting. One reason is that gaining responsibility is itself seen as an advancement which gives rise to a sense of achievement and can also improve the work itself: a multiple motivation! Assigning responsibility is a difficult judgment since if the person is not confident and capable enough, you will be held responsible for the resulting failure.

There are two types of advancement: the long-term issues of promotion, salary rises, job prospects; and the short-term issues (which you control) of increased responsibility, the acquisition of new skills, broader experience. Your team members will be looking for the former, you have to provide the latter and convince them that these are necessary (and possibly sufficient) steps for the eventual advancement they seek. Design the work assignment so that each member of the team feels: "I'm learning, I'm getting on".

Where to Seek Solutions

- Look for aspects of motivation – any problem which stems from lack of commitment or interest can only successfully be addressed by providing motivation.

- Be flexible with regards to personal problems. No parent is immune to the "joys" of a new born baby, no one is unaffected by bereavement. When circumstances and the human factor impinge upon your ordered plans, adapt; since you cannot change it, work with it. Focus upon the problem and deal with that.

- On a larger scale, look carefully at the work practices which you and they follow through habit. Some of these can work against you, and the team. For instance, the way you hold team meetings may suppress contributions; the way you reward the exceptional may demotivate those responsible for the mundane.

- Take a long term view. Constant pressure will eventually destroy your team members. A relaxed yet engaged workforce is (say) 10% more efficient than one which is over-stressed and fretful. So why not devote half-a-day to: peer-group teaching, brainstorming on enhanced efficiency, visits to customers (internal and external), guest lectures on work tools. You lose nothing if you gain a skilled, committed, enthusiastic team.

- Finally, look carefully at how you behave and whether the current situation is due to your previous inattention to the human factor: you might be the problem, and the solution.

                                                                                                                 Gerard M Blair


Practicum 3.12

Translate the italicized parts of Text 3b into Russian

Practicum 3.13

Practicum 3.14

Suggest your arguments to support or challenge the view that

- it is crucial to give public praise for independence and initiative displayed by the team;

- progress should be punctuated and celebrated with small but marked achievements;

- a sustainable approach to maintain enthusiasm and commitment from the team is relevant;

- the feedback the manager gives his team about their work is fundamental to their motivation;

- a structured review system is a blessing;

- everyone should get a share of the interesting and of the dull;

- gaining responsibility is seen as an advancement which gives rise to a sense of achievement and can also improve the work itself.

Practicum 3.15

Consider the motivating factors listed in the text: behaviour; motivation; achievement; recognition; the work itself; responsibility; advancement. Rank them in order of priority, support your stand with appropriate arguments and evidence.

Practicum 3.16

Assume the role of

- a seasoned manager who is sharing his views on effective managing strategies;

- a subordinate who is advising his green manager on which triggers to pull to make his team more motivated and committed;

- a business guru who is giving a presentation about sustainable approaches to maintain enthusiasm and commitment from the team.

Practicum 3.17

Study the case and epitomize the findings of the research: list four motivating drives, define which of them appeals to you most, why

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