Examine the structure and culture present at Google. What were the advantages and disadvantages of this type of structure and culture? Use theory to explain the structure and culture at Google further and also to support your analysis.
Google Inc. is world’s leading organization which specializes in internet related products and services. Google offers variety of products and services such as online advertising solutions, search engine. Cloud-based applications etc. Founded as a privately held company by Larry Page and Sergey Brin in 1998, Google has come a long way since then after going with its first IPO (initial public offering) in 2004. Today Google has become one of the most admired company on the planet. Rapid rise of Google to its present cult status has stunned everybody, with its revenue of approximately $60 billion in 2013, it has surpassed many of its competitors far behind. This fascinating rise to peak of success is supported by various factors, and two important factors out of them is the structure and the culture which exists in Google. Since its inception Google has followed a different path whether it has been their approach towards market and products, their way recruitment or the way they have organised their entire structure and culture.
Google has grown dramatically from just two people (i.e. its founders) from approximately 50,000 employees in 2013, which shows belief of people in the organization, its culture and structure. Before examining the culture and structure of Google, it is important to understand the meaning of terms of organizational culture and organizational structure.
Organizational Structure: It can be defined as a formal system of relationships of work, roles and authority which controls and governs the way in which employees, associates and managers of the organizations interact with each other (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2004).
In order to examine organizational structure of Google one must understand that there are few fundamental elements of organizational structure i.e.
- Structural characteristics: this element can be defined as a property which is tangible and physical in nature and enables in determining the basic shape and appearance of the hierarchy which the organization has.
- Hierarchy: this element can be defined as the relationship between various roles and responsibilities as depicted by the organizational chart.
- Structuring characteristics: this element can be defined as various policies and approaches which are implemented in the organizations and behaviour observed of managers and associates according to that.
This has helped Google in becoming an organic, learning and boundary-less organization which is in stark difference when compared to convention organization structure which made organization mechanistic, non-learning and traditional in nature. Hence it can be said that Google’s relatively flat organization structure has resulted in negligible management levels, less centralization and has created broader spans of controls among management (Aldrich & Herker, 2007: 217-230).
Organizational Culture: Google’s organizational culture is more based on the concept of Adhocracy, where there is strong value placed on flexibility and discretion and the focus is outside the organization. In such organization leaders are not control maniac, and can be termed as more of innovative and entrepreneurial in nature (Pierce & Delbecq, 2007: 27-37).Effectiveness is measured not in terms of task done, but in terms of innovation. Organization following such culture are a vibrant and dynamic place to work at, and it promotes the risk taking capability as well. Due to these reasons Google today has become one of the most desired work place to work at. Its open culture and seamless management enables the process of innovation.
Google reflects that how modern day organizations are changing in terms of structure and culture. Rather than having a well-structured culture where every person has a well-defined role and responsibility, Google has focused on minimum level of hierarchy in its structure. Such structure at times might create complexity in day to day functioning, but that is what chaos management is all about. Such structure builds a feeling of trust and faith in the organization which eventually strengthen overall culture and structure of the organization. With fast changing business environment, business organization needs to be flexible today, and flexibility at organizational structure level promotes faster decision making process. Hence following a culture which is vibrant and open in nature is one of the key factor behind success of organizations such as Google.
The management style at Google is very different from conventional management styles found in most organizations. Compare this management style and its implications with more traditional management systems using organization theory to support your comparison
Irrespective of any metric used, Google clearly stands out when it comes to its style of management and leadership. Today Google has complete dominance in whatever IT products and services it is functioning. It might be its search engine, or video streaming website etc. in all the fields of its operation it has completely controlled the industry to a certain level. For this position of Google, its management style and leadership can be credited. Apart from its enviable market position, even at internal organization level there is extremely less attrition and majority of the employees (who are also known as Googlers) are more than satisfied with their work and overall work environment. This management style of Google was not established overnight. Google was an early setup started as a garage start-up by researchers Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Hence it never started as a well-structured organization in terms of management or any other leadership related aspect. Google grew organically as and when required and demand was there. Google’s functioning was never a pre-planned in nature (Lewis et al, 2002: 546-564). For example even its founder were not aware of the fact that their search engine will get millions of hits within few days of launch. Hence it never expanded in a pre-planned manner. Same philosophy today reflects in Google’s management style as well. It follows an up-to-minute management style which included elements of chaos in it. Unlike various other IT majors such as Microsoft, Yahoo! etc. Google’s management style is focused more towards empowering of its employees.
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Management in Google is not about wearing formal suits and sticking to specific timeline established for the office, In fact it is completely opposite as people in Google are never forced to wear formals or follow the conventional corporate culture. Such elementary things have created huge difference in performance of the organization. Google’s management style is focused more towards promotion of innovative thought process in its employees. There are various organization in which management is more focused towards getting a task done in a mechanical manner from its employees, such organizations have failed to innovate. Future belongs to the organizations who are involved in innovation of product and services, and making life of people easy. This philosophy to a great extent is followed by Google’s management which believes in making life of its employee’s simple by removing any unnecessary managerial obstacles and letting them do things which they have expertise in.
Management has restricted itself in taking key business decisions impacting the growth of the company rather than getting involved in day to day functioning of company at employee level. Whereas other organization focus on having complete control of both inside as well outside of the organization. In most of the companies, management style are not connected completely with the ground level issues and problem, however in Google its management has evolved as the one which is based on the basic issues and problems faced by a general employee. This helps in ensuring that an employee working in Google feels satisfied with his work and overall organizational culture.
Google’s management style is such that it gives freedom to employees to implement their vision or any other innovative idea, and most importantly in case of failure it does not discourages the employees (Mullins, 2007). Google’s CEO has laid down certain management and leadership practices which has enabled Google to successfully execute its business. These key aspects are:
- Get knowledge about your employees
- Empower employees to own and solve the business problem which you as a business want to achieve
- Providing flexibility to employees to function outside established hierarchy of the organization
- Innovate new methods and programs to reward and promote high-performing employees of the organization
- Encouraging performance review of employees by someone whom the employee can respect for their impartiality
Hence based on above five principles Google Leadership has been managing the organization. Such culture and management style helps in establishing a work culture of trust and faith where people are focused on innovating new ideas which can be then converted into feasible business products. Google Labs is one example of such though process, which consists of various products innovated by the employees of the company. In case of a product does not clicks with the end customer, it is then simply taken down from the Lab rather than punishing employee for its non-performance. Such measures, impart confidence in employees that in case if their idea fail then there will be no fingers raised towards him. When such situation is there then employees feel empowered and they work towards building a flexible and dynamic organizations such as Google. In fact management of Google has established 70-20-10 time norm according to which 70 percent of the time of an employee is meant for core functions defined by Google, 20 percent time is for off-budget projects and 10 percent time is given to employees to pursue their own innovation or idea based on their expertise. Importance of this 10 percent of time can be understood by the fact that more than 50% of Google’s new product come out as a result of this spare time given to employees. This approach is radically different from other organizations where there is hardly any time given to pursue any personal idea or innovation.
Use motivation theories to explain how employees might be motivated at Google. Can you explain the lack of the continuation of the enormous creativity initially demonstrated at Google through motivation theory?
Motivation can be defined as the factor which pushes an individual to put certain degree of effort (based on importance of the objective) to achieve the ultimate objective. Motivation cannot exist alone, it has to exist along with various motivation factors and the goal/objective which needs to be achieved. Motivation can be in various forms such as rewards, benefits, appreciation etc. In fact it can be defined as a form of managerial control. There are different type of motivational theories (Schunk et al, 2012):
Content Theories: This type of theory is based on human needs and how human beings with varying requirements may respond to different work conditions or environment
Process theories: This type of theory is based on how human beings perceives rewards and make decisions on various work related behaviour
Reinforcement theory: this theory is based on the study that how environment consequences have impact on the behaviour of people.
Various research and industry observers have observed that over a period of time Google’s innovation speed has slowed down. In fact today Google is focusing more on the consolidating its position in the market with its existing product. This might partially due to business strategy of Google, and also due to lack of innovation coming from employees. Initial innovative streak which Google displayed in its starting years has reduced to a certain extent. Employee motivation can be attributed as one major factor behind this. This loss of motivation among employees can be explained through Two-Factor theory which is a type of Content theory. Two-factor theory developed by Frederick Herzberg consists of two factors:
- Hygiene Factors
- Elements of the job context
- Source of job dissatisfaction
- Satisfier Factors
- Elements of the job content
- Sources of job satisfaction and motivation
Job dissatisfaction is influenced by the hygiene factors such as working conditions, co-worker relations, policies and rules, supervisor quality, compensation etc. (Weiner, 2013).In case of Google its Hygiene factor cannot be questioned or attributed behind fall of motivation of its employees, since it is a well-known fact that how Google takes care of its employee in every possible aspect.
On other hand Job Satisfaction is influenced by various motivator factors such as achievement, recognition, responsibility, professional and personal development as well growth. On close analysis, Job satisfaction is one important aspect which is missing in several Googlers. On surface level all employees of Google appear to be satisfied, but when analysed through theory like this then one can understand that why employees are lacking in innovation today. Since last 4-5 years Google has been focusing to strengthen its market position, this has resulted in launch of new products since last few years (O'Neil & Drillings, 2012). This means that there are several employees whose innovations are not getting launched in the market which is a demotivating factor for the employee. An employee seeks recognition and appreciation for his efforts. In Google launch of an idea is an ultimate appreciation for the employee. With that not happening, there is sense of dissatisfaction creeping in among the employee who are getting reluctant towards innovation, and rather focusing more on their core defined job responsibilities.
It is important that Google should apply the same theory to motivate its employees, so that they can come out of their demotivation phase and begin innovating again. For this Google’s management should focus on boosting motivator factors such as increasing job responsibility, recognizing efforts of an employee through various types of rewards such as promotion or monetary rewards. If this can be done, then probability is high that Google can achieve its old innovative days and its employees will feel motivated again to innovate.
From the information given, to what extent is the role of teams and team-building important at Google?
For any organization to succeed, team work is an essential element. Teams are formed with individuals who have certain common expertise of objective to achieve. It will not be incorrect to say, that Google’s entire success is based on team work. In fact Google itself was established with team effort of Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Team is all about channelizing strengths of the team members towards achieving a common objective. Team building generally can be categorized in two types such as formal team building and informal team building (Dyer et al, 2013). Root of teamwork can be found in Japanese quality movement and various other autonomous working groups. Behind team work there are multiple purpose which an organization aims to achieve such as:
- Improvement in efficiency of the employees
- Timely delivery of the assigned task
- Providing opportunity to individual employees to prove their capability at team level
- Encouragement of positive work culture and behaviour
Above are the few of the objective which team efforts strives to achieve in an organization. Team as such can be defined as a small (or big) group of people with complementary skills who are brought together to work to achieve a common objective. Team building on other hand can be defined as a process which involves integration of various activities such as forming, growing and improving the knowledge, skillsets, and attitude of different individuals in a unit which is closely integrated and driven by certain objective.
Google as an organization is completely works on the basis of team work. Every internet based product or service which Google launches has a dedicated team which works behind it relentlessly. In Information Technology sector is highly unlikely that an organization can succeed without team work. Though Google is powerhouse of talent when it comes to presence of numerous researchers and experts working with the company. However it is important to understand that no expert or researcher can succeed without team work which is required for the implementation of the idea. Due this reason team building exercise is an extremely important activity. Organizations these days opt for several team building theories in order to form teams. Several team building theories are as follows:
- Beldin’s team role theory
- Abraham Maslow Hierarchy of Needs theory;
- John Adair Leadership theory
- Isabel Briggs-Myers’s MBTI theory
- Douglas McGregor X and Y theory
- Tajfel, Social Identity theory,
- Tuckman’s theory of group development
- Jung’ colour works theory
In order to understand the extent to which Google’s team building important for the organization, Belding’s team theory can be applied. This particular theory was developed by British psychologist Dr. Meredith Belbin who successfully established coherent and accurate system which was capable of explaining behaviour of individuals and its impact on team’s success. Observation of this theory to a great extent resembles to the efforts made by Google in order to achieve perfect team building in its organization. According to this theory:
People who are part of the team assume different ‘team roles’. ‘Team Role’ can be defined as a tendency to behave, contribute and relate with other team members in certain manner. Under this theory 9 team roles have been identified under which members of the team can be categorized and each team role has certain role to play in success of the team (Corley et al, 2011:12-32). Similar to Belbin’s theory Google also has categorized the team roles in majorly three categories such as:
- Action Oriented
- People Oriented
- Thought Oriented
Google rather than focusing completely on technical expertise of a particular individual also focuses on their behaviour and interpersonal strengths. As per the model following are the nine team roles such as:
- Action Oriented
- Complete Finisher
- People Oriented
- Team Worker
- Resource Investigator
- Thought Oriented
- Monitor Evaluator
Thus based on above mentioned team roles, even Google has established its team building exercise. It ensures that in each project team there is combination of all type of team roles falling under three categories. This ensures that there is team balance maintained and weakness of one team member can be complemented by strength of another. For example in development of a new website based on Android applications, there might be a person who will be good in code writing, whereas another one might be expert in User interface designing hence both can complement each other and drive the team towards achieving its objective. This model also mentions the importance of having a strong leader to guide and mentor any team. Google for its various team has experts and mentors allocated to the team who in case of issue or deadlock provides his suggestions or guidance to fulfil the objective of the team.
Thus it can be said that since its inception Google has stressed on the importance of team work and team building exercise. Team building in Google has helped the organization to bring together various experts and harness their strength in achieving a business objective.
- Aldrich, H., & Herker, D. 2007. Boundary spanning roles and organization structure. Academy of Management Review, 2(2), 217-230.
- Buchanan, D. A., & Huczynski, A. 2004. Organizational behaviour: an introductory text (p. 28). Harlow: Prentice Hall.
- Corley, K. G., & Gioia, D. A. 2011. Building theory about theory building: what constitutes a theoretical contribution? Academy of Management Review, 36(1), 12-32.
- Dyer Jr, W. G., Dyer, J. H., & Dyer, W. G. 2013. Team building: Proven strategies for improving team performance. John Wiley & Sons.
- Lewis, M. W., Welsh, M. A., Dehler, G. E., & Green, S. G. 2002. Product development tensions: Exploring contrasting styles of project management. Academy of Management Journal, 45(3), 546-564.
- Mullins, L. J. (2007). Management and organizational behaviour. Pearson Education.
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