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How Google teams get more done

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After Google acquired Picnik in 2010, the online photo editor’s team stayed until Google shuttered Picnik in 2012. They went on to start the photo-editing website Pic­­Monkey and took some valuable lessons with them.

Former Picnik and current Pic­­Monkey CMO Lisa Conquergood says she learned a lot about how Google keeps employees engaged and productive. She shares four of the most powerful of these lessons:

1.  Bring distant employees to­­­gether with technology. Google’s em­­ployees work from all over the globe, so the company must constantly find new ways to keep them connected and working together effectively. Google creates its own tools, such as Google Hangouts, which are often later released to the public for widespread use. Google Hangouts allows people to see each other and share documents on screen, so they can connect and collaborate better than on a traditional conference call.

2.  Promote transparency to en­­cour­­age collaboration. Each week, every Google employee completes something called a Snippet. They record what they accomplished in the past week and what they’re planning to work on in the week ahead. Everyone’s Snippets are open to everyone else to promote transparency and col­­laboration. If someone is already working on a project you’re interested in, you can start collaborating on it.

3.  Use email more efficiently. The amount of email exchanged at Google is overwhelming, Conquergood says. Two secrets are setting up smart filters and prioritizing your most im­­por­­tant communications.

4.  Enter every meeting with a clear set of goals. Every meeting at Google has goals and a meaningful agenda. Attendees know the goals before going in and they walk out with assigned tasks and deadlines. This streamlined approach is essential to assigning responsibility for next steps and making sure everyone is doing their part without overlapping someone else’s.

— Adapted from “The Four Best Productivity Tricks I Learned at Google,” Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company.

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