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Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead

by Laszlo Bock

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The Globe and Mail Top Leadership and Management Book
Forbes Top Creative Leadership Book

From the visionary head of Google's innovative People Operations comes a groundbreaking inquiry into the



The Globe and Mail Top Leadership and Management Book
Forbes Top Creative Leadership Book

From the visionary head of Google's innovative People Operations comes a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work-and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring that they succeed.

"We spend more time working than doing anything else in life. It's not right that the experience of work should be so demotivating and dehumanizing." So says Laszlo Bock, former head of People Operations at the company that transformed how the world interacts with knowledge.

This insight is the heart of WORK RULES!, a compelling and surprisingly playful manifesto that offers lessons including:

  • Take away managers' power over employees
  • Learn from your best employees-and your worst
  • Hire only people who are smarter than you are, no matter how long it takes to find them
  • Pay unfairly (it's more fair!)
  • Don't trust your gut: Use data to predict and shape the future
  • Default to open-be transparent and welcome feedback
  • If you're comfortable with the amount of freedom you've given your employees, you haven't gone far enough.

Drawing on the latest research in behavioral economics and a profound grasp of human psychology, WORK RULES! also provides teaching examples from a range of industries-including lauded companies that happen to be hideous places to work and little-known companies that achieve spectacular results by valuing and listening to their employees. Bock takes us inside one of history's most explosively successful businesses to reveal why Google is consistently rated one of the best places to work in the world, distilling 15 years of intensive worker R&D into principles that are easy to put into action, whether you're a team of one or a team of thousands.

WORK RULES! shows how to strike a balance between creativity and structure, leading to success you can measure in quality of life as well as market share. Read it to build a better company from within rather than from above; read it to reawaken your joy in what you do.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
Bock is a director of human resource at Google, though the company itself uses the term people operations. His delivery of his new book is consistently pleasant, engaging, and conversational, as he details the ways in which Google’s sometimes quirky culture—including such novelties as free gourmet meals for pet dogs in the cafeteria—contributes to both employee fulfillment and a profitable bottom line. Bock’s style does not embody the intense passion and persuasion of the more motivational offerings of the business genre; instead his reading is focused and straightforward. Listeners hoping for an experience to pump them up into a frenzy of inspiration should probably look elsewhere. One very minor oddity of the recording is that extra voices are provided to quote a few women in the narrative, though the practice is inconsistent and seems at odds with the overall presentation. A Hachette/Twelve hardcover. (Apr.)
Library Journal - Audio
As senior vice president of people operations at Google, Bock has access to a wealth of information about tech workers and how they respond to various employment practices. Here he shares his experience with Google's benefits, pay, corporate culture, communications, and a variety of other topics that are commonly thought to be key drivers in employee satisfaction and productivity. The Google he describes is highly data-driven, tracking everything from what will prompt employees to make healthier choices in the company lunchroom to how employees respond to having things tracked. While many smaller workplaces may not find Bock's experimental, data-driven approach to be scalable (though Bock would argue differently), businesses of all sizes will benefit from considering the arguments he makes for how to think about the employee/employer relationship and how to make decisions around what most of us would call human resources policies and practices. VERDICT Capably narrated by the author , this thought-provoking book is worth reading for anyone interested in today's corporate workplace. ["Bock makes a persuasive case for ceding power to individual employees and teams. For visionary managers": LJ 2/15/15 review of the Twelve: Grand Central hc.]—Heather Malcolm, Bow, WA
Publishers Weekly
Bock, Google’s head of people operations, debuts with a book about how Google hires and manages its employees. Most people know about the company’s free lunches and shuttle services, but, according to him, there is more behind Google’s five-time Fortune ranking as “Best Company to Work For.” The company aims to “keep people in an environment of freedom, creativity, and play.” However, there are rules underlying this culture, and values underlying these rules, to each of which Bock devotes one of the book’s 14 chapters. Its bedrock is trust in the fundamental goodness of people. Some rules are easier to accept than others. For example, “given limited resources, invest your HR dollars first in recruiting.” Less obvious is, “Swallow hard and pay unfairly.” No matter the rule, however, its explanation is thorough. Regarding pay, Bock cites a “power law distribution” that proves “your best people are better than you think, and worth more than you pay them.” This book is for those who are curious about Google, but especially for business leaders, all of whom, according to Bock, would benefit from adopting these rules themselves. Anecdotes about Google’s founding and history mingle with discussions of management theory, psychology, and behavioral economics to create a fascinating and accessible read. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"The book is a true masterpiece."—Forbes.com

"An intriguing profile of an innovative company that continues to shake up the world."—Kirkus Reviews

"Good guidance from the head of Google's innovative People Operations, who wants to show companies how to attract and keep the best managers...Love the read-it-two-ways title."—Library Journal

"Anecdotes about Google's founding and history mingle with discussions of management theory, psychology, and behavioral economics to create a fascinating and accessible read."—Publishers Weekly

"WORK RULES! delivers on its promise. Befitting a volume written deep within the algorithm factory, WORK RULES! is dense with data and counterintuitive conclusions for anyone looking to make the workplace a better place."—Forbes

From the visionary head of Google's innovative People Operations--a groundbreaking inquiry into the philosophy of work and a blueprint for attracting the most spectacular talent to your business and ensuring the best and brightest succeed. The praise for WORK RULES! includes the following bestselling authors and top flight executives:

Adam Grant, author of Give and Take

"WORK RULES! offers a bold, inspiring, and actionable vision that will transform the future of work. It should be mandatory reading for everyone who leads, manages, or has a job."

Daniel Coyle, author of The Talent Code
"Laszlo Bock's book is a dazzling revelation: at once an all-access backstage pass to one of the smartest organizations on the planet, and also an immensely useful blueprint for creating a culture of creativity. It should be given to every leader, every entrepreneur, every manager, every student, and every human being who wants to understand how to build a successful, cohesive, high-performing workplace."

Dan Pink, author of Drive and To Sell Is Human

"Laszlo Bock has written a remarkable book that reveals the secrets of becoming a talent powerhouse. He shows the many benefits of a high freedom culture with a mission that matters. And along the way, he topples pillar after pillar of conventional wisdom on hiring, training, assessing, and compensating the people who power your organization. If you're looking for forehead-smacking insights along with an array of savvy new practices, WORK RULES! is an essential read."

Susan Cain, co-founder of Quiet Revolution and author of Quiet

"WORK RULES! is spectacular. I spent weeks with it, because I wanted to take such careful, detailed notes. I plan to share it with our entire Quiet Revolution team-and I'm sure that all company founders will do the same."

Ram Charan, coauthor of Execution and advisor to boards and CEOs

"WORK RULES! is an exceptional book aimed at any manager who wants great ideas for encouraging success from their team . . . an instant classic for the management shelf."

Indra K. Nooyi, chairman and CEO, PepsiCo

"With a clear-eyed, data-driven look into today's workplace, Bock reveals the non-traditional practices that can fundamentally transform businesses of all kinds."

Tom Gardner, founder and CEO, Motley Fool

"The finest book on organizational culture that I have ever read. WORK RULES! is the essential playbook for creating high-performance cultures that liberate people to do their most important work."

John Doerr, managing director, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers

"WORK RULES! is more than a must-read business book. It's a handbook for high-performance teams that win."

Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of Leadership B.S.

"Some will think that WORK RULES! is a book about Google. It is, but mostly it is much more: a book about how to build people operating systems that permit any organization to get the smartest decisions from their workforce. Clearly written, evidence-based, with practical guidance and a cogent underlying philosophy, WORK RULES! needs to rule the world of work."

Peter H. Diamandis, chairman, XPRIZE; exec. chairman, Singularity

"WORK RULES! is a surprising, unconventional book that is required reading for anyone looking for a job in the tech sector, and for every entrepreneur seeking new modes of innovative thinking."

Robert I. Sutton and Hayagreeva Rao, co-authors of Scaling up Excellence

"A riveting ringside view of people operations at Google. A deft marriage of research and practice that is full of practical tips. It is an indispensable book for all people managers."

Tim Brown, CEO of IDEO and author of Change By Design

"As a company renowned for questioning our assumptions, it should be no surprise that Google has developed unique and profoundly effective approaches to culture, talent and leadership. By debunking many accepted HR practices WORK RULES! establishes itself as a new testament for managing talent in modern times."

Liz Wiseman, author of Multipliers and Rookie Smarts

"Laszlo Bock has done far more than codify Google's recipe for its high-freedom, high-performance workplace, he has created the essential guide for unleashing talent in the digital age. Intelligent, playful, and practical, WORK RULES! is for all leaders who want to inspire brilliance and bring out the best of humanity in their workforce."

Library Journal
★ 02/15/2015
Who's not curious about what makes Google a worker's paradise and a household word among profitable businesses? Agreeing with Ron Friedman's (The Best Place To Work) contention that gains in job satisfaction and concomitant increases in innovation and productivity are within the reach of every organization—regardless of funds available for employee perks—Google's top human-resources professional, Bock, offers tips from management research and examples gleaned from experience to illustrate how "the best way to arrive at the beating heart of great management is to strip away all the tools on which most managers rely." Readers persisting after the preface's assault on conventional management theory and practice stand an excellent chance of emulating Google's success in attracting, developing, and retaining employees who Bock characterizes as "the most talented people on the planet." Counterintuitive chapter titles include "Don't Trust Your Gut" (advocating use of structured interviews over subjective measures and methods not predictive of future performance) and "Pay Unfairly" (explaining how rigid pay structures can motivate highest performers to quit). Each section concludes with three-to-four takeaways encapsulating the author's message. VERDICT Bock makes a persuasive case for ceding power to individual employees and teams. For visionary managers. [See Prepub Alert, 10/27/14.]—Elizabeth Wood, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH
Kirkus Reviews
The head of "People Operations" at Google discusses how the company grew into a world leader in its field and why economics was not necessarily the primary driver of its development.Bock's account of the company's origin and growth challenges traditional top-down business models based on monetary incentives and bonuses to mobilize and motivate employees in pursuit of corporate goals. As the author tells it, "Googlers" have built a self-replicating culture of continuous innovation and improvement, from the eponymous search engine to Android phones and operating system and self-driving cars. Trust is at the company's core. Each of their highly qualified employees is free to contribute their best and help others solve problems, transparently, with research supported by rigorously tested data. "Inside Google," writes the author, "we don't have a lot of rule books and policy manuals." Nonetheless, Bock offers his own interpretation in the form of 10 work rules that can help transform a workplace into a "high freedom environment." These include giving your own work meaning, focusing on turning overperformers into teachers and working with underachievers to do better, not confusing development with managing performance, and being both frugal and generous. Bock insists that "culture eats strategy for breakfast," and he dismisses the "up or out model of management" associated with former GE head Jack Welch—this scheme rigorously ranks workers annually and dumps the bottom 10 percent. As Bock shows, Google couldn't afford the luxury of wasting one of its largest investments: the associates. Compensation, promotion policy, management practices and performance management are all designed to foster associates' contributions to building a "learning institution." A perfect example is Google, writes the author, which is "twenty five times" more exclusive than Harvard and "profoundly suspicious of power." An intriguing profile of an innovative company that continues to shake up the world.

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Hachette Audio
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5.40(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.50(d)

Meet the Author

Laszlo Bock leads Google's people function, responsible for attracting, developing, retaining, and delighting "Googlers." Bock's earlier experience spans executive roles at the General Electric Company, management consulting at McKinsey & Company, start-ups, non-profits, and acting.

During Bock's tenure, Google has been named the Best Company to Work For more than 30 times around the world and received over 100 awards as an employer of choice. In 2010, he was named "Human Resources Executive of the Year" by Human Resources Executivemagazine.

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