Laszlo Bock is the Senior Vice-President of People Operations at Google. He rose to such a role at the age of 33 in 2006. My math background puts him at an age that is slightly younger than me, so I’m a wee bit jealous.
I’ve never met Laszlo.
But I’d like to.
And one day, maybe I can even work with him.
1) He’s a long-term thinker
- Anyone who is worried about the health of his or her organization in terms of life-work balance is a long-term thinker in my books. Laszlo says “By analyzing behaviors, attitudes, personality traits and perception over time, we aim to identify the biggest influencers of a satisfying and productive work experience.” Over a one hundred — yes one hundred — year study, Google and Laszlo aim to curb the imbalance that manifests at their organization between life and work. Inspired by the 65-year (and counting) Framingham Heart Study, Laszlo is intent on not only the long-term survival of the company that employs him, but on the true definition of life-work balance and worker engagement. And he’s doing so through long-term thinking.
2) He knows when change is required and is not afraid to do so
- It’s Google, so you would expect everything to be peachy and perfect. After all, there was a movie made about work life at Google. But no, Laszlo is happy to change when it’s necessary. For example, on the topic of their hiring practices — famous for mind bender puzzles, SAT scores and high GPA’s — Laszlo says “Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and GPA’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore.” He also intimated past practices were somewhat ludicrous by stating, “We found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.” Google switched to behavioural based interviews, for the record.
3) He understands employees are differentiated and diverse
- Employees are not drones. Organizations are not robotic. Thus, those responsible for hiring — leaders and recruitment — need not look solely for 1’s and 0’s. Laszlo says, ”When you look at people who don’t go to school and make their way in the world, those are exceptional human beings. And <Google> should do everything we can to find those people.” I believe in both the art and the science. It may not come from one individual on a team, but the combination of such talent can create incredible things. The same occurs when mixing old school, new school and school of hard knocks backgrounds.
- In my experience, I’ve met far too many HR leaders and professionals who claim to understand culture, when in fact they are simply transactional order takers. That isn’t culture, that’s a Dairy Queen. Laszlo is one of those HR leaders — I’m sure he’d want me to say people leaders — who believes he doesn’t deserve a ‘seat at the table’; he is the table and that table is setting the tone for openness and collaboration. For example, Laszlo says “The bulk of what we do to cultivate this creative, passionate workforce costs nothing. Making our mission tangible is a natural outcome of who we are. Defaulting to open and giving Googlers a voice is a natural consequence of acting in accordance with what we believe about people.”
I’m not looking for a new role. I’m plenty busy right now with the ‘Chief Envisioner’ one recently announced.
But if the stars align, I’d at least like to meet up with Laszlo and swap stories. He doesn’t need a copy of Flat Army — he already has demonstrated that in spades — but I would love to give him a signed book nonetheless.
Laszlo is definitely one to tip your hat to.