The critical component in every business is the leadership and management. A business that is well managed operates in the same manner as a well oiled machine, thus producing the results set out in the beginning. Management covers many areas in any business such as recruitment, resource acquisition, formulation of policies, resolving disputes between employees and financial management. In simple words a management system must focus in making everyone contented: the customer, investors, and employees, without sacrificing on profit. As such any business must adopt management practices that are geared towards getting the best of everything.
The fundamental aspect of any business is, first and foremost, is designing how the business will run often based on the general goals of the business and putting in practice. It defines the relationship between managers, supervisors and employees, effective ways of accomplishing goats and ensuring that employees stay motivated throughout the process, and for the longest time possible. The leadership aspect also comes in to guide the employees in their day to day activities and make decisions on behalf of the company.
Management theories have evolved over time from classical theories to their application in the contemporary world. There has been a shift from top down management system, in which emphasis was on the management to the employee himself. The current employee does not like a bureaucratic management system, especially in a fast paced industry that needs new ideas every single day such as Google, which forms the basis of this reports case study. The focus is no longer on the manager but the employee as management shifts to a more humanistic approach. The focus nowadays, as in the case of Google Inc., is more on the human relations, behavioral and social psychological. This report will focus more on the human relations approaches adopted by the tech giant.
This report focuses on Google Inc. leadership and management style which has seen its employees productive and motivated over time, leading to the giant that is Google today. Google Inc. is an advertising company that sells ad space online, but to a common internet user, Google is the get way to the internet. Every internet user across the globe searches internet content through Google; news, articles, jobs. It has simplified the internet. It is hard to imagine how the internet operated before the advent of Google. In as much as Google has swept over the internet, it has also set pace for leadership and management style, where workers are highly motivated to do their jobs with least
Google Inc. operates in a culture where every employee is treated equally, where no one has a superior voice or the last voice. What is treated with utmost regard at Google Inc. however is someone’s idea. To foster this kind of working environment Google’s management system got rid of hierarchies. The emphasis of the style lays in ensuring that all employees are productive in the work place. Another factor that informed Google’s leadership of this style of management is the fact that most of the engineers employed in the beginning did not hold highly the idea of management. They wanted to be left alone to work on their projects.
The report entails the classical theories of management, its evolution into contemporary human based management styles. The case study of the report is Google Inc., its metamorphosis into the tech giant that straddles Silicon Valley today, what informed its top hierarchy of the need to have a management style where employees are treated equally, the advantages of the style and lastly critical analysis of the theory and its application in Google.
The key to any business enterprise’s development is in its management policy. It will determine whether it will prosper and conquer the world through its ability to make decisions based on resources, goals, recruitment and expansion. The management also provides a link between the employees and the supervisors all the way to the top of the hierarchy, thus ensuring that the decisions are implemented to the later and that the employees are motivated enough to work towards the prosperity of the company and not merely make a living. The earliest management theories were the classical theories which included administrative, scientific and bureaucratic management theories. They were developed late nineteenth century and early twentieth century to help solve management problem present at that time of history.
The earliest proponents of these classical management theories were social managers and of course social research scientists. Although these theories have been modified over time, some of them are still applicable around the world in modern day work place and for particularly different reasons. Companies such as McDonald, Coca-Cola have used some of these management theories to develop their global brands to what it is today.
The father of the scientific management model, Frederick Winslow Taylor developed the theory through his observations as a worker. He observed that the workers put on minimal energy into their work, something he described as soldiering (Cole & Kelly, 2016). The worker was not putting in enough effort to ensure that the company was productive, may in what motivation speakers would nowadays describe as working just enough not to be sacked. He (Taylor, 1903) argued that the average worker went about their daily activities in a slow, easy gait and only after a good deal of thought and observation but worked at a faster paces when external pressure was applied. This tendency, Taylor observed, brought down the performance of even the efficient workers down to that of the least efficient workers. And his answer to this management problem was the scientific management system.
In his work titles ‘The Principles of Management’, Taylor argues that management is not only theoretical, but must also be involved in the work place. He argued that both the manager and worker must collaborate in order to increase productivity in the work place rather than sharing the surplus income. This theory was developed at a time when the economical interests of the worker were not important to the management, which may have explained the slowness of the workers in the first place. To bridge the gap, managers had to be involved, as well as the conditions of the worker improved so that the productivity of the company can go up.
However, the scientific management theory alienated the worker from the planning process and was reduced to repetitive procedures in the workplace. The skills of the worker were disregarded as well as their creativity in solving problems that could have arisen in within their defined areas. The principles of the management system then contributed majorly to the stifling of the worker. These included development of each man work’s scientific element, scientific selection and training of the workman where he trained himself in the past and cooperation between the management and the workers according to the scientific laws that have been adopted as the best for the company, striping the worker of his individual problem solving skills (Taylor, 1973)
This theory was developed by a French mining engineer Henry Fayol. His theory on management become quite a phenomenon in the twentieth century having turned around the fortunes of a company that was on the brink of collapse. Fayol’s key management practices included planning, forecasting, commanding, coordinating and controlling. He based findings on his managerial career, and also came up with the principles of management: division of work, authority which involved the right to issue orders, discipline in the work place, unity of command, unity of direction, subordination of individual interests, remuneration, centralization of decision making, line of authority, order which entailed both material and social order, equity, stability of tenure of personnel, initiative and spirit de Corps which ensured that the management keeps the morale of the employees high (Fayol, 1916).
Aside from the management theories developed by Taylor and Fayol, Max Weber came up with what he called ‘bureaucracy’. Weber argued that there was a tendency in people to obey those in authority over them. He says; “Bureaucracy develops the more perfectly the more it is ‘dehumanized’, the more completely it succeeds in eliminating from official business love, hatred, and all purely personal, irrational and emotional elements which escape calculation. This is appraised as its special virtue by capitalism.” (Weber, 1978)
This form of organization had no regard to the employees, in other words it lacked the human aspect of the work place experiences. Workers were to submit to those in authority. Weber went further ahead and developed three forms of authority (Cole & Kelly, 2016): rational authority where beliefs rested upon established laws, traditional authority where authority rested on established belief in the sanctity of immemorial traditions and lastly charismatic authority where it rested upon the exemplary character of an individual.
In contrast to scientific and administrative management theories, as Cole & Keller, (2016) criticize; bureaucratic organizations enable authority to be subject to published rules and practices. As such, legitimacy is laid on hierarchy rather than arbitrary. Mullin, (2000) offered his criticism of the theory arguing that it emphasizes on rules, record keeping and paper work rather than what administration was meant to serve, promotes a lack of adaptability and individuality, stifles initiatives and restriction of psychological freedom.
These earliest forms of management theories have in many ways been the source of management policies and forms. Some of them are still in use today depending on the type of organization. Bureaucracy thrives best in government institutions where there’s need to obey the authority more than anything else. However some large organizations also practice the bureaucratic form. It is the discretion of the management to work out which system works best for its company and adopt it for its benefit. For that matter, these management theories have been modified to meet the specific needs of the organization.
The changing market has necessitated many global organizations to rethink their management structures and policies. These changes include globalization where companies are increasingly seeking cheaper alternatives of producing goods due to stiff competition, competition for creative and skilled workers and climate change. What worked a century ago will not work in this very day and age. Workers demand more than they did years ago. To ensure that they are happy and productive, companies have been forced to adopt humanistic management approaches.
Whereas the scientific management theory emphasized on collaboration between the management and the workman, it did not involve the worker in the formulation of the policies and procedural aspects of the company. In the current world, the worker is part and parcel of the planning process just as the execution of it. This is also aided by the fact that workers now are highly skilled and may not need any more scientific training as was the case before. The creative industry requires constant change and adoption of new ideas in order to stay up the consumer food chain. Where else can the management get its ideas than letting its employees bet autonomous in their areas of expertise at the work place?
The administrative theory is partially adopted especially in the remuneration aspect and motivation of employees. The current work place dictates that the employee is left to do what the company hired him to do, without stifling his creative mind through endless orders and chains of commands. No one wants to have their idea up to be discussed three or more levels up. Many want to own their own ideas and be the one who guide the management on how it will be implemented. It’s up to the management to decide on the viability of the idea and its contribution to the company.
Other than a government setting, the bureaucratic form of management is nowadays frowned upon. People want to be free, exercise their individuality and have the psychological freedom to do what they are employed to do. It is potentially dangerous to a creative industry, to have a bureaucratic form of management.
The contemporary management practices dictate that the employee comes first. Management is human centered. Companies have been forced to adopt a little of every classical management theory, discarding what doesn’t work them as well as defining their own management policies in order to bring out the best in their workforce. The focus of any business entity in the present business landscape is to ensure that the business operates efficiently and achieves effectiveness through focus on specific strategic issues (Hamel, 2000). To achieve this, a manager’s critical roles are broken into three categories: interpersonal, informational and decisional roles. In the interpersonal one he plays the role of the figurehead, a leader and a liason person. In the informational role he disseminates, monitors and is the company’s spokesperson. In the decisional role, the manager allocates resources, handles disagreements, the negotiator as well as decides the entrepreneurial direction of the business.
As Hamel (2007) posits, there’s a shift away from heavy management structure although the need to maintain efficiency through controlling and coordinating. There’s need for responsive kind of management style which is less costly as too much hierarchies have proven to be over time. Any business needs to reduce management costs without compromising on the output.
It’s critical, that as management continues to be changed, it’ should shift towards the human being who is the worker. The work place should be democratic, personalized as will shift away from mechanistic systems of bureaucracy. The advent of technological advancements means that innovation, interdependence and creativity form the centre of the organization. Managers are no longer needed to perform supervisory and administrative duties. Teams nowadays manage themselves with a team leader who informs the top management whatever they need relayed to them. In simple terms the manager’s roles are slowly going instinct (Finkle, 2012).
Even though classical approaches in management are still practiced in many business settings, they were prescriptive in nature and had their own fair share of drawbacks. However, these classical approaches have been used to define the contemporary world of management, where there’s emphasis on information sharing, non-linear system of management and formulation of strategies where everyone’s opinion is heard, considered, and if well thought out, adopted by the organization. This shows a shift to a more democratic work environment where the human aspect of work forms a fundamental aspect. (Ellinas, C., Allan, N. & Johansson, A.2017)
Contemporary approaches to management focus solely the behaviour of people at work. A case study of Sports Direct mistreatment of its workers represents everything that should not be done to an employee. Threats, coercion and punishment are not what make a company tick in the contemporary world of management. A human being needs to be motivated to work. The organization must offer what makes the employee eager to work (Hofstede, G. 2011).
A manager should find out what makes the employee work harder and avail it to them. Mitchell (1982) argues that the aim of studying human motivation is geared towards discovering what makes a worker motivated, the triggers and what sustains that state of motivation. The manager must do this in a manner that rewards motivated works without compromising on the overall objectives of the organization.
However, as much as a manager may motivate the employees, for one to act it is on the individual level (Mitchell, 1982). Every person has their own personal needs that make them motivated, that is, subscribe to different theories of motivation. Another reason why people are motivated in intention; a person is always under control of what makes them motivated, and make them do what they do at work. The third reason is that motivation has many faces. It entails what makes them motivated and the ability of the individual to work towards a particular objective.
Motivation is used by managers to predict behavior among people. Nothing gets achieved by motivation alone. There must be action geared towards a specific goal, external and internal factors as well. As an example, a person who is hungry may be motivated by the desire to find food and quench his hunger. The desire to eat triggers the response which in this case may be to work or steal. Either way a response can either be satisfactory or not just as in the work place (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010).
According to Buchanan and Huczynski (2010) the basic elements of understanding motivation include the drives which include basic needs which are innate determinants of human behaviour. A manager must find out the basic needs of his employees since this are the most immediate things that motivate them. If the employee cannot readily or easily fulfill what they consider basic within the organization, the manager should not be guaranteed that that employee will be productive.
The second element that informs motivation is the motive. This is the unconscious day to day activities that influence human behavior to go after certain goals due to their social value in achieving them. The motives of an employee could be to take their kids to the best schools in the neighborhood, go for vacation abroad, and retire at forty and probably to afford a house at a certain location. This will drive someone to be motivated to be able to afford such a lifestyle as is determined by the society (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010).
The third objective that helps understand motivation is the goals. These are the purposes that the people want or desire in their lives. They may be paying off a debt, shopping in select locations or buying a certain brand of car. In the workplace the goals would be rising up in the management ranks, salary increment or a paid vacation. The goals of any employee are important to them as the goals of a company are important (Buchanan & Huczynski, 2010).
There has been a fundamental shift in the style of management in the recent past, owing to researches conducted. In as much as the classical management theories are applicable in the contemporary work place, focus has shifted in having the employee motivated to work. To do this the organization has to find out what triggers the employee into working; there must be a goal, a desire and motive. The shift has seen humanistic approaches of management, which are centered on the human first and not the work they are supposed to do. It has been established that employees have motivations, and thus strive towards fulfilling whatever that motivates them. It could be social needs. It could be basic needs. It could be self-actualization (Cloke and GoldSmith, 2001)
The human relation approach aims to show that the worker is more important than the work. Emphasis was laid more in the works behavior and their social interactions at work. An experiment known as the Hawthorn experiment was conducted to approve the importance of human relations at work. It sought to find out what made the worker content to work through varying conditions and comparing the results. It also sought to establish that human relations transcend physical contribution and include creative, emotional and understanding, communication and the ability of workers to express their opinions, offer suggestions to increase the satisfaction and improve production (Cole and Kelly, 2016).
Scientists discovered that the sense of belonging to a social group was equally important both inside and outside the workplace. It reinforced the fact that human beings are social animals would love to be view as a group rather than individually. Hawthorn’s experiment established that the manager should value human interactions, foster relationships in the work place since it acts as a motivating factor if the employees feel that they are part of a group (Hassard, 2012)
It’s clear that once a person has fulfilled both physical and social needs, they will want something more to add to their social. Social scientists call it self-actualization. The most influential proponents of this theory is Maslow (1994), Herzbert (1059), Likert (1967, Argyris (1957) and McClelland.
Abraham Maslow developed what he called the hierarchy of needs. He outlined the sets of human needs based on a rank with the most basic needs (physiological) at the bottom, followed by security, belonging, self-esteem and finally self-actualization. Every worker is motivated to fulfill certain within this hierarchy and once they have done that, the person will move a rank higher to the point of self-actualization.
Douglas McGregor (1966) developed a theory which he called theory x and theory y which he based on two sets of assumptions. In the first assumption (theory x) the manager views the workers as lazy, require control and have to be threatened. The worker avoids responsibility but wants security. This theory is derogatory to the worker and lacks humanistic approaches to the work place yet some still practice in their organizations. The second assumption, theory y, involves a situation where the manager views enjoy work and do not any form of threats or coercion in order to be productive.
The social motivation theory that works best today is one which the employees are seen as naturally motivated by their own individual needs, based on the hierarchy of needs, and do not need any form of threats whatsoever to be productive. The case study of Sports Direct, where the workers were threatened, paid less had the least motivated employee within their ranks. There was no psychological freedom in the work place (Cherry, 2014).
Google Inc. is the kind of company that has successful managed to adopt a kind of approach where the workers have the freedom to exercise their creativity as well as meet their social needs. Google has the best employee relationships so much that it relieves millions of applications every year from people who want to work with them. It is no secret the employees are the most motivated lot.
Today’s technological giant, Google Inc. began in 1998 as an academic research project and has grown in leaps and bounds to its flotation in the stock market. The founders were two Stanford University students, Sergey Brin and Lawrence Page, whose ideas at the time would come to completely change how we experience the internet. It almost impossible to work without Google as one ‘does rounds’ in the internet. So great is Google’s influence that it is now a verb which means to search the internet.
Google began with the idea of organizing information on the web and availing them to an internet user at a very fast speed, something that now informs its mission: to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. It aimed at being the best search engine, where the user would get exactly what they wanted just by searching through the company’s web platform.
Over the years, Google has evolved from just being a search engine to introducing a vast range of products such as Gmail, BlogSpot, news and advertising (through adsense and adwords) where it gets most of its revenue. It is now a global brand, with over 43 offices across the globe, even penetrating into the Chinese market where the government has a total grip on what its people consume, even putting in place the famed Chinese firewall. Google boosts of over 37,000 employees spread across its global offices.
Since its inception Google Inc. has operated entirely on its own management blue print, where there are no managers. It’s a company made by engineers for engineers, as Eric Flatt points out. Engineers do believe that their time should be spent designing and not playing a supervisory roles and view management as destructive. They wanted to spend their time creating and innovating, not managing others. They felt that it decreased their productivity or reduced their progress, hence the need to do away with managers.
Google’s founders, a few years after the birth of what would soon be a technological giant, did away with management and adopted a flat organization where everyone was equal. This was to ensure rapid conception and development of ideas which necessitated the doing away of bureaucracy. Google was in a way dismantling all management theories that had been in use for long, went about its business in an informal kind of way but without sacrificing on the need for innovative aspect of the company.
However they were forced to relent to the idea of having manager when its engineers incessantly went to Page to seek clarifications and even solve disputes. It is here that they learnt a valuable lesson on managers and their contribution to the organization of the company. Even then the company does not have many managers in its 37,000 workforce. It has 5,000 managers who help employees decide on the most important projects, communicate to employees about the strategy as well as ensuring facilitating collaboration. This is when they realized that they couldn’t wholly do away with the idea of management. Someone had to take responsibility of some functions and had to do so without interfering with the rapid generation of innovative ideas from the employees (Economist, 2004).
Google does not value hierarchy and emphasizes on the individual during it recruitment. It values expertise, problem solving skills and the best ideas at the expense of authority or the hierarchy (Heimsch, 2011). Everyone has an equal chance of having their ideas adopted so long as it makes practical sense to the company. As Flatt notes, “There is only so much you can meddle when you have 30 people on your team, so you have to focus on creating the best environment for engineers to make things happen,” he notes
The company has a single status policy that says that every employee has an equal chance to be heard. Google’s Chairman Eric Schmidt once said in an interview “No particular person has a strong say….At Google, everyone is the same.” An employee agreed with his sentiments saying that, “You have an equal seat at the table, and it’s based on the power of your idea, not how long you’ve been here, tenure, title or anything. In my first week here, I was shocked that for the product I was working on, the product manager was straight out of college. She was making decisions about delaying the product. In every other company I have worked in, it had to go up to three levels of VPs before you could say that you were pushing out the schedule.”
Google has strived to cultivate a culture where sharing of ideas is the ultimate aim of the setting. Nobody has the monopoly of ideas, only the best ideas have the monopoly at Google. This creates a comfortable environment as it is outlined in the website. Though Google has grown a lot since it opened in 1998, we still maintain a small company feel. At lunchtime, almost everyone eats in the office caf©, sitting at whatever table has an opening and enjoying conversations with Googlers from different teams. Our commitment to innovation depends on everyone being comfortable sharing ideas and opinions.
The freedom that these employees get accorded with it does not come without a price. And the price is responsibility. In their recruitment exercises Google hiring team ensures that they select the best brains in the industry, people who are highly motivated by the vision of Google and are willing to go beyond their own needs to see it accomplished.
One of the key requirements Google Inc. as an employee is to fully utilize the skills that one has and to exercise their creativity without restrictions. The company rewards handsomely those who come up with innovative ideas. Google urges its employees to devote seventy percent of their time on Google’s core business which is advertising and search engine, twenty percent of the time on things related to the core-business that were not included in the budget and the ten percent of their time on pursuing ideas that relate to one’s core competencies.
The managers at Google do not micromanage the employees under them, allows the freedom for one to exercise their creativity and offers advice when needs be, trusts the abilities of the people she is entrusted and advocates for team work with others outside their team. Managers give responsibilities to others as a sign of trust as one employee spoke in a survey; “My manager was able to see my potential and gave me opportunities that allowed me to shine and grow. For example, early on in my role, she asked me to pull together a cross-functional team to develop a goal setting process. I was new to the role, so she figured it would be a great way for me to get to know the team and also to create accountability and transparency. Once it was developed, she sent me to one of our Europe offices—on my own!—to deliver the training to people managers there.”
With the best managers, Google ensures that the best comes of the people they hire. People are generally happy working under the best people. As such Google has defined the following characteristics of good mangers; be good coaches, empowers the team but not micromanage, show interest in the team member’s well-being, results oriented and productive, a good communicator, ensure that employees advance their careers, have a clear vision and strategy for the team and finally the technical skills in order to offer advice (Block, 2016). From these characteristics it is plausible to deduce that the managers work for the workers and not the other way round. Left to do their own work as they see fit, Google employees do not have time to communicate, supervise and motivate others at the same time concentrate on their own creative endeavors.
Google has devised a system of management where it can accommodate the employees’ needs, aspirations and desires, through incentives that go beyond remuneration. Some of the needs of the employees, such as bringing their pets to work, are some of the needs that cannot be captured through monetary incentives. It’s all about understanding the needs of the employee and creating an enabling environment.
Social researchers deduced that human being are social beings and not robots, hence the need to find out what triggers them into action. Finding out the triggers makes it possible for any company to tailor its policies towards creating such triggers and enabling the employees to be creative and innovative. Goolge Inc. operates in an environment where ideas are the most important element, as such must create a way of making sure that the best ideas are rapidly absorbed into the company for it to grow and stay as the leader in the market.
The approach of Google seems atypical to normal organizations that still follow the classical approaches to management. The leaders at Google have however veered off the trajectory of management since the tech industry needs innovators with ideas that need to be implemented quickly. Having many hierarchies would be an impediment to idea formulation, development hence the need to have the employees working on their own ideas as well as implementing them as best as they know it.
In addition to granting the employees the freedom to exercise their creativity, Google ensures that its employees do not get disturbed by off-work related issues, giving them ample time to devote to the core business of the company. It’s the company’s admission that the worker is human first, with needs that needs to be fulfilled; otherwise they’d be out there unbothered by Google’s vision and goals.
Google has made it possible for the employee to have an environment that is stress free. It provides a wide range of services and facilities to its employees, some that are not available anywhere. These include snacks, massage, gyms, commuting buses complete with bike racks, internet access, car-washes, laundry services and even the gym (Frangos, 2016). It includes virtually everything an employee would dream off. The environment as pleasant as it is, has essential elements to it as outlined in its website:
These kinds of facilities have paid off to Google. The employees are innovative and creative, a thing that has seen the company grow exponentially over the years. There are minimal distractions at work, since the most basic needs have been well taken care of. The company also offers attractive pay packages to its employees as well defined on its website According to the Google web site, “We provide individually?tailored compensation packages that can be comprised of competitive salary, bonus, and equity components, along with the opportunity to earn further financial bonuses and rewards.”
Following Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as a motivation to work, Google has developed philosophies that ensure that everyone who contributes to its company in whatever form has their needs, goals and desires catered for. It says: We strive to be innovative and unique in all services we provide both to customers and employees, including our benefits and perks offerings. We realize and celebrate that our employees have diverse needs, and that this diversity requires flexible and individually directed support. Our priority is to offer a customizable program that can be tailored to the specific needs of each individual, whether they enjoy ice climbing in Alaska, want to retire by age 40, or plan to adopt 3 children.”
Google offers a range of benefits, beyond the usual remuneration. They include: health and wellness which entail medical insurance, retirement and savings where Google tops up according to their plans and the employees, paid vacations of up to 25 days on the sixth year since working for Google, other benefits that include bonuses on referring someone, tuition reimbursement as well as adoption assistance.
Google’s approach to human relation system of management cannot be applicable in each and every other institution. Google is a tech giant and is able to implement a raft of measures for its employees without denting its financial capabilities. Other organizations will crumble should they attempt the kind of employee motivation as Google’s. As such it is important for each and every organization to devise ways in which its employees can stay motivated and happy working for it. Another factor that makes Google’s approach inapplicable to the fact that the tech industry requires ideas and rapid flow of ideas. Some organizations work best with the bureaucratic kind of management because there’s no need of rapid idea development.
Google Inc. has successfully adopted a human based management theory where emphasis is on the employee first. It remains fundamental to Google’s core values that the employee must have their social and physical needs in order to work as effectively as required. In making the employee as comfortable as possible, google has also managed to give them freedom to exercise their creativity without so much bureaucratic kind of decision making. The concept of adopting the best idea gives the employees free reign in their work place. The role of the manager is to work for them and not the other way round. Google’s model of management signals a major shift in human management, that to make the best out the employees, it best to minimize management as well as creating an atmosphere that works best for the employees.
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