August 11, 2015

3 L&D Lessons from Google

By David James |

L&D lessons from google

As one of the world’s most admired companies, Google clearly get many things right. And having read Work Rules by Laszlo Bock, Google’s SVP of People Operations, I’ll put L&D into that category.

This was evident the moment I read the phrase:

“The biggest opportunities lie in your absolutely worst and best employees”

Based on Bock’s insights, I’ve identified 3 key lessons that we can all learn from Google. None of it is rocket science, some of it we already know, and much of it could easily be applied to other organisations. So, here are my top 3 L&D lessons from Google:

#1: “The people in the bottom tail [of the performance rating distribution curve] represent the biggest opportunity to improve performance in your company.”

Google, like many organisations, have deliberated and experimented with different ways (and reasons for) performance ratings. Whilst others are doing away with them altogether, Google seem to have become clearer on the reasons they rate their people and more robust in the way they do so.

Considering the lowest rated performers as “the biggest opportunity to improve performance in your company” is very different from those companies whose approach is to exit a certain percentage of them each year. The rationale Bock provides is that if performance is simply down to people not being good enough, then that’s a negative reflection on Google’s recruitment, which they pride themselves on and have invested so heavily in.

So, despite the latest performance management trend being to not rateperformance, there’s still benefit in knowing which of your people do truly perform at an optimum level and those who do not… Yet.

Lesson: Identify high performers and low performers in your organisation – with robust, consistent criteria – and understand more about what is actually happening so you too can capitalise on the biggest opportunity to improve performance in your company.

#2: “Put your best people under a microscope”

Once you’ve identified your top performers, you need to fully understand what they do and know that differentiates them.

Bock recommends that organisations “put their best people under a microscope”explaining that “every company has the seeds of its future success in its best people.”


June 15, 2015

Pre-onboarding: From ‘yes’ to ‘desk’

By David James |


This article was first published in the June 2015 edition of Training Journal

“You get one chance to do onboarding right, so pull out all the stops to make it a transformative experience for the employee… Do this well, and talent retention may just be less of a challenge.” Meghan M Biro, founder and CEO of Talent Culture

Why go beyond a standard induction?

If you want a highly engaged, loyal workforce, employee onboarding is something that you need to be making a priority. Onboarding is your big opportunity to connect your new employees with their new company. And yet a recent report in Forbes stated that only 42 per cent of employees even know their organisation’s vision, mission and values, which is surely contributing to a massive 75 per cent of employees who claim they are not fully engaged with what the organisation is trying to achieve!

Add to this, the growing propensity for job-hopping and getting employee buy-in from day one becomes crucial to building long-lasting engagement and achieving high retention rates (two hard-to-come-by assets in today’s economy).

Onboarding vs induction

Onboarding is a more all-encompassing version of an induction. Inductions tend to begin on day one, last around a week or so and are very process and policy focused. Onboarding, however, has bigger goals. It begins much earlier, from the moment a candidate says ‘yes, I’ll take the job’, and takes in everything from company culture and values, to requirements and expectations of the role, to the necessary evil of compliance training, to where the coffee’s kept.

A successful onboarding programme should be able to acclimate, accommodate and accelerate your new employee in their role, and make them feel part of the team before they’ve even set foot in the office.

Expectations have changed

Businesses pour millions into creating responsive customer service procedures and tailored, personalised communications for their consumers. With advances in technology making all of this possible, a high level of personalised engagement has become the new norm and consumers now accept nothing less.