Leadership Lessons from Google – When a Giant Makes a Giant Mistake
Google announced last week that they would close three offices and lay off 100 full-time recruiters. Even though these are the first Google-hired employees ever to lose their jobs in a workforce reduction, it’s not news… not in this economy. In fact, 100 employees is nothing, right?
Wrong. How big could it have been for Google if they would have announced they were not going to lay anyone off, ever? Instead of layoffs, they were going to find new jobs for these 100 people at Google?
100 employees is nothing, right?
With a ninety-billion dollar market capitalization and over 20,000 worldwide positions, Google could have easily absorbed these 100 humans in other areas of the company. They could have used the non-event of not laying off 100 employees as a chance to score a coup with the American media. They would have been the darling of the new administration: An American company; devoted to full employment despite the economic downturn.
We’re not naïve. We’re not suggesting Google not lose the 100 jobs, just not the 100 humans. Through attrition and everyday hiring, Google will surely add these positions in the next two weeks. With some on-the-job training and evening classes, these 100 recruiters could easily be ready to tackle many other jobs at the search giant. It would take a little work, but everything worthwhile does.
Google Could Have Been Someone; They Could Have Been a Contender…
Google could have been different. Google could have been the only giant American company to never, ever lay off a full-time employee. In the process, they would enjoy a more loyal workforce and great press. The positive feelings created by this move in this economy would have been worth 100 times more than Google would pay those 100 employees this year. They really could have played this to the hilt.
To be fair, Google has technically cut jobs before. In 2008 they laid off over 300 employees at their Double-Click subsidiary. This is somehow different; these were Google employees, hired as Google employees.
As my buddy Niall puts it, “in reality, Google is just like everyone else.”
Niall’s right; and it’s sad when you think about it. Google had a chance to make a statement, and instead chose to take the easy way out. Google is just like everyone else.
This begs the question: When will Google fall? If they’re not different, then they must be susceptible to the same market forces as every other business. Inevitably, they will be overtaken in their own field, and then they will be acquired. Then, the layoffs will really flow.