Laszlo Bock is obsessed with optimizing employee happiness. He did it for 10 years as the head of Google's people operations. Under Bock's tenure, Google was named one of the best places to work and continues to hold that position. Googlers have him to thank for their generous benefits packages and onsite chefs.

Bock is now the CEO of his own startup, Humu. After a decade of observing what makes Google's high-performing employees successful, he's sharing those insights with other companies. The Humu platform sends employees science-backed nudges to help them improve productivity, happiness, and overall company culture.

Setting new hires up for success

One of Bock's many initiatives at Google was to help new hires quickly find their footing and excel at work. He used data from current employees to do this. What did Google's highest-performing employees have in common?

"We designed a nudge to help new hires succeed in their roles by reminding them of the behaviors our top performers practice regularly," Bock writes for Harvard Business Review. The results were a win-win for employees and for Google's bottom line. Bock says modeling these two behaviors increased new hires' productivity by 2 percent -- the equivalent of about $400 million in a single year.

1. Become a question master

We've all been there on day one. It's all brand new, and you have zero context for much of what's been done before your start day. Everyone's speaking in jargon. You don't know the process for how work gets done.

But you don't want to look stupid, so you keep your mouth shut and listen, hoping to learn through osmosis. Maybe a few weeks in, it'll all start to gel.

Bad move, says Bock. "Ask questions, lots of questions!" the Google HR team told new hires. You'll get up to speed much faster if you put yourself out there and ask for clarification about what you don't know. See your co-workers as gold mines for legacy knowledge that you need to tap into.

Your boss will appreciate the initiative and drive to understand. And you'll be well on your way to becoming a top performer once you have a better handle on all the work and conversations happening around you.

2. Put yourself in the feedback seat

Another piece of advice HR gave new Googlers was to ask for feedback early and often "Actively solicit feedback -- don't wait for it," Bock suggests. This common behavior of top performers lets you learn what's working and what's not.

Be proactive about improving your performance and skills. Schedule a one-on-one with your manager every week or two. Bring specific questions and challenges that they can help you with. Regularly checking in on your progress will help you achieve your goals over time. ​

Published on: Jun 17, 2019
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