Lesson #4: Take Care of Your Team

“Our employees, who have named themselves Googlers, are everything,” Page explains to his company’s investors. “Google is organized around the ability to attract and leverage the talent of exceptional technologists and business people. We have been lucky to recruit many creative, principled and hard working stars. We hope to recruit many more in the future. We will reward and treat them well.”

Despite being the brainchild of Page and Brin, they are the first to admit that the company’s significant growth is the result of the creative and hard working team behind it. One of the management’s top priorities is simply “to have great people working for us,” as Brin says. But, it is not such an easy process. Indeed, the hiring process is one that Google takes very seriously.

In order to attract the best of the best, Page and Brin put much effort into creating a highly desirable environment in which to work. “We think a lot about how to maintain our culture and the fun elements,” says Page. “I don’t know if other companies care as much about those things as we do.”

To this end, engineers at Google are encouraged to spend up to 20% of their time on their own creative projects that might benefit the company. This has resulted in big successes such as Google News and AdSense. “In the same way Google puts users first when it comes to our online service, Google Inc. puts employees first when it comes to daily life in our Googleplex headquarters,” says Page. Employees are given meals free of charge, as well as onsite doctors and washing machines within the GooglePlex, which is decorated with lava lamps and large rubber balls.

“We are careful to consider the long-term advantages to the company of these benefits,” Page tells Google investors. “We believe it is easy to be penny wise and pound foolish with respect to benefits that can save employees considerable time and improve their health and productivity.”

Google also strives hard to maintain a flat organizational structure. “If you can run the company a bit more collaboratively, you get a better result, because you have more bandwidth and checking and balancing going on,” says Page. While the VP of engineering no longer gets 150 direct reports, few walls exist between programmers and management. Instead, Google thrives on its employees, who are all crammed together as efficiently as possible in order to create an energetic atmosphere. “Talented people are attracted to Google because we empower them to change the world,” says Page. “Google has large computational resources and distribution that enables individuals to make a difference.”

Page believes that it is because of the significant employee ownership of the company that has made Google what it is today. “Because of our employee talent, Google is doing exciting work in nearly every area of computer science,” he says. “Our main benefit is a workplace with important projects, where employees can contribute and grow.”

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