Spreading passion and enthusiasm – Google’s company culture

When discussing the case, “The ordinary heroes of the Taj”, the significant impact of corporate culture on humans and their attitudes and behaviors became clear. Organizational culture refers to a system of shared meaning and values within the members of the organization that distinguishes it from other organizations. Within the well-known hotel chain “Taj” the organizational culture seemed to be strongly influenced by the founder’s Indian origin. The hotel employees treated their guests according to the Indian saying “Guest is God” and employees were trained extensively to increase their autonomy. The importance of traditional values and the cultural fit are major recruiting criteria at Taj. The core value of altruism of the Indian culture is deeply anchored in the organization and allowed for the selfless and intuitive reaction during the riots that affected the Taj hotel. The fact, that even the Taj Boston offers a comparable experience to Taj India proves that the dominant culture and the core values of the Taj chain are successfully anchored and shared throughout their hotels worldwide. The strength of their corporate culture and their intuitive display of altruism for me showed an impressive example of how relevant the communication of and training towards core values is when recruiting new employees.

Therefore, I got interested in how and if other enterprises with less customer-orientation also manage to create a comparably strong culture and promote their main values throughout all layers of the organizational hierarchy. During my research, I found the example of Google. As I am currently looking for internships, I find it really interesting how different companies try to convince young talents to join their company. While some big multinationals rely upon their already existing reputation and do not or hardly invest in attracting new talent, Google even provides promotional videos that are supposed to broadcast Google’s corporate culture. The attached YouTube video presents the first week of several interns at Google.

The company tries to emphasize their core values creativity, teamwork and empowerment of even the youngest employees. In the promotional video, interns and employees or diverse cultures and with completely different backgrounds are shown. It creates the feeling of a truly open-minded company with a very personal touch. The interviews with the different interns show their enthusiasm about Google as a workplace and it creates a very positive company image. It seems, as if passion and no fear of failing but rather being open to learn new things are main characteristics of Google’s working environment. Employees and interns work in very colorful offices, celebrate together and report on many exciting activities they engage in regularly. For me personally, one of the most important aspects is the treatment of the interns as regular employees.

Some of the main downsides that many student interns I know experienced are a lack of responsibility and autonomy as well as the fear of making mistakes. Google however manages to present itself as a true learning organization and creates the feeling of belongingness and imagination as main driver for productivity. The feeling of belongingness is further emphasized by the fact that the interns wear Google T-shirts and caps. This supports the belief that working for Google is more than just a job, but rather a passion.

Even though this video is clearly promotional and it is therefore questionable whether the corporate culture is really as deeply embedded in the company as depicted in this short movie clip, I think that the video provides a good example of what the most important aspects of a positive company culture are. Google is it very successful in creating a positive image of its working environment and manages to infect the audience with the enthusiasm of being a “Googler”.

Emotional dissonance at work and how to prevent it

While we so far tried to answer the questions of who goes to work and why people go to work, the discussion about emotions at work in week 3 let me reflect most. We found out that there appear to be six basic emotions that every human all over the work is able to identify, including anger, fear, sadness, happiness, disgust and surprise. Additionally we tried to differentiate between emotion, mood and affect. Although current academic literature may suggest diverse definitions of these terms, for me, the best differentiation we also identified during class discussion was by their length. While mood and emotions are both states of feelings, mood is rather short-lived and emotion is longer-lived. Having a bad day is normal and just shows that a person is not in a good mood. Being constantly sad, stressed or depressive is however more than just a short-lived feeling and can rather be identified as a general emotion and state of mind. While our moods might differ on an hourly basis and depend heavily on situations, in my opinion emotions are deeper anchored in a person and often hard to control or even explain. In contrast to both, affect is only the experience of feeling an emotion, thus it is shortest in duration.

When talking about emotions at work, we integrated all three concepts of feelings instead of solely focusing on long-lived emotions as emotions, moods and affects may equally influence our work performance. In many working environments, emotional labor is of huge importance. Employees are expected to express specific organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions. The most salient examples for me are bank tellers in shops or waiters in restaurants and cafes. No matter whether they have a bad day or not, whether they are tired, stressed, sad or worried, they are expected to display positive emotions and act friendly. These expectations nowadays do not only come by their superiors, but primarily by customers. Thus, whenever employees start to act in order to display the appropriate attitude or emotions to the customer while simultaneously feeling a different emotion themselves, we encounter emotional dissonance.

The critical topic of emotional dissonance, its consequences and how to prevent them stroke me personally, because I worked in a café myself during high school and remember how stressful it can be on a busy Sunday to continuously act friendly and apologize for potential waiting times, while customers are grumpy, unfriendly or even offensive. Especially on days where I had a bad day myself, the constant acting to display the appropriate positive emotions was really challenging and often frustrating.

Fortunately, as the café I worked in was rather small, no employee had one specific task and we had to work together to prepare the food and drinks, sell and serve the products as well as to do the dishes. Therefore, whenever one of us was completely stressed or had an unlucky day with several unfriendly customers, we managed to divide tasks in a way, that he or she could do the dishes or prepare food and drinks in the back office for a while instead of working in direct customer contact. This enabled us to relieve every now and then from the stress created by constant emotional dissonance.

It is just human and natural to have emotions and moods and ignoring them is not an option in the long run. Organizations with intense interpersonal transactions should therefore enable their employees to overcome the negative long-term consequences of regular emotional dissonance by offering temporary back office tasks and making each employees work shift more diversified. As an increased task variety is likely to enhance job satisfaction in general, this change might even create a virtuous cycle, leading to friendlier and happier employees directly engaged with the customers and less emotional dissonance overall.