Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Google's HR Dilemma: Should They Hold or Let Go

I've heard this story earlier from grapevine: Google and Facebook competing for engineering talents in the valley. TechCrunch ran a story today to echo the same rumors that I've been hearing earlier.

Rumor has it that Google engineers have been defecting to Facebook in numbers. Apparently there are enough of Google engineers have left for Facebook, and that's concerning Google as they are gearing up to execute their new social network strategy. Faced with growing number of engineers looking at Facebook's pre-IPO stock offer as big enough carrot, Google is reportedly countering Facebook offers with 24-hr counter offer response time, unusual bump in comp package, promotion, and/or combination of all.

I'm not sure how much truth is to TechCrunch story, and how Google HR is dealing with this hemorrhage of talents holistically. But if Google is going after all who dipped their toes on Facebook applicant pool, I agree with Michael Arrington that Google may be creating a bigger problem that what they are trying to solve. I would think at least Google will know how to motivate employees' creativity, not greed.

First is morale of the rest of team. If submitting resume to Facebook is the fastest way to get up the corporate ladder and earn fatter paycheck in Google, Google is sending the wrong signal to the rest of organization. Second is that those who tend to defect have other issues whether it be lack of challenge, motivation, or not getting proper recognition in day-to-day work. Throwing money at it is not the right solution. Third is that money tend to diminish creativity if applied incorrectly. I'm sure most of you have watched Daniel Pink's case for right way to motivate creative workers: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.

I think what's needed is social network vision from Google. Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, needs to lay out his social network strategy to his team, and get the engineers to emotionally buy into the plan. Once people are galvanized toward achieving shared vision, this won't be a problem. I would argue that it's better for Google to shed those who cannot be motivated to share the same vision across.

Engineering talent migration is nothing new in valley. By trying to stop it, Google may no longer be Google the innovator where creativity is rewarded.

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