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The concept of people management is viewed with “healthy scepticism” at Google, according to the firm’s head of organisational culture, benefit and people policies in EMEA.
Rachel Mooney told PM at ?What If!’s Top Dog live event: “Early on at Google, there was a cynicism around ‘people managers’ as a concept and as a profession in itself. Within our organisation there isn’t really the ‘career’ people manager. If you’re a manager at Google you’re expected to get your hands dirty. You’re never separate from the day-to-day work.”
Working within a flattened structure, peer-to-peer evaluation is king, and the team rather than the manager is expected to identify problems and come up with solutions. This can often see a team playing table football at three in the afternoon, joked Mooney. But she’s happy to defend such play while at work: “In any high-performing organisation you have to be aware of people’s quality of life and work-life balance. We’ve taken significant steps, based around the way our founders set up the organistaion, to blur the boundaries between work and home life.”
“We have managed so far to get the balance right and to support people,” said Mooney, “but it comes down to who you hire. We do not lower the hiring bar for anyone.” And with one million speculative applications received through the website each year, there are certainly plenty of people to pick from.