I worked at Google as a contractor
- Looks good on your CV
- You get to work with some really smart people
- Free food (if that's important to you)
- Great facilities (if you have time to use them)
- Lack of social skills among most of the engineers makes it a very dull environment to work in. The decor screams 'fun' and 'zany' but the people are anything but. It took real persistence to get basic greetings out of people sometimes. Lots of lonely, isolated, awkward people who seem to rely wholly on Google for their social life - beers at TGI (Thank Google It's) Fridays, Google employee groups/clubs/organisations/networks etc.
- TCVs (Temps, Contractors and Vendors) are looked down on as an underclass. The assumption is that as a temp or contractor you're desperate to convert. I was a contractor and although it wasn't true for me, I did see some of this 'Google or Die' attitude among some TCVs and there was the irritating assumption that I would have the same attitude.
- Arrogance towards or ignorance of the outside world. Some people couldn't conceive that other places of work could compare to Google. In some cases, it was because they had only ever worked inside the Google bubble, but in some cases it was sheer arrogance and false pride at being a Googler.
- Company jargon is sinister and off-putting and contributes to the arrogance of some of its employees - being Googly, being a Googler, Noogler etc.
Advice to Management
- Look to broaden your hiring intake by hiring for EQ not just IQ. Get people in with personality and social skills so that the atmosphere doesn't end up like a morgue. There are super-intelligent people doing repetitive donkey work there anyway so you obviously don't need everyone to be super-intelligent.
- Take action to stop Google culture and values being used to encourage arrogance in your employees.
- Rethink how you incentivise your staff. Sometimes work gets done purely to meet OKRs not because it really needs to be done or because it's the right thing to do. It seems to encourage dishonest manipulation of targets rather than an honest assessment of what needs to be done and what has been achieved. This seemed to be more prevalent among product managers who seemed to promise things they didn't fully understand and then lean on and browbeat engineers to deliver it.
I worked at Google as a contractor (More than a year)
The food is absolutely fantastic, and most offices are genuinely cool.
If you are not an engineer you will be working surrounded by a collection of people scared to get in the way of the engineers. The amount of legacy systems in HR and recruitment were just astonishing. Zero priority.
Some people are nice, some aren't. The Googleyness thing basically boils down to "never give bad feedback". Management is terrified of direct feedback, and "anonymous" queries that result in less than good grades will be pursued until people change them. As a result, there's a yes culture where people are basically grateful for being there, and not able/eager to change or improve anything that did not come from the top.
Even on the engineering side of things: sure, if you are working in Google X you'll probably be doing cool stuff. The blunt of the rest is basically tweaking ads. Don't forget, 90% of revenue comes from online advertisement. A proportional amount of engineering time is devoted to make sure it continues that way.
Let's skip the disregard for privacy because this is bad enough :)
Advice to Management
Be honest about bad feedback. It's the only way to improve.
2 types of people that will find a great place to work: (1) recent college or B-school graduates looking for a first job where they can learn a lot, and (2) more senior corporate executives with many years of experience who aren't overly ambitious and are looking for a role where they can put life on auto-pilot and glide through their day-to-day activities.
There is no clear career progression, and senior management is arrogant.
Advice to Management
Reward employees based on achievements as opposed to favoritism by one's direct line manager. Ensure that rewards / bonuses / promotions are not entirely up to one person (ie the specific team manager), and instead need to factor in feedback and opinions that the direct line manager cannot overrule.
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