Make learning part of the culture

September 27, 2017 | Sarah Devereaux | HCI
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Google’s g2g program (“Googlers-to-Googlers”) is an internal volunteer teaching network of more than 7,000 Google employees who dedicate a portion of their time to helping their peers learn and grow; all outside of their core job responsibilities. Volunteers known internally as “‘g2g’ers” can participate in a variety of ways, such as teaching courses, providing one-on-one mentoring and designing learning materials.

The success of the g2g program at Google is due largely to the culture of learning fostered within the company. At Google, we believe that it’s the job of everyone within the organization to contribute to the growth and development of our people; it’s not only the responsibility of People Development (Google’s central Learning & Development team). This shared ownership has really created a deep sense of purpose and meaning when it comes to learning, and aligns beautifully with one of the g2g program’s core values, “Everyone has something to learn. Everyone has something to teach.”

We were intentional about aligning the g2g program with Google’s core philosophies: “You don’t need to be at your desk to need an answer,” and “There’s always more information out there.” This connection has helped the g2g volunteers feel a greater sense of purpose in their work and improved their motivation by creating an explicit connection to the values of the wider organization.

Here are a few things Google has implemented to help make peer-to-peer learning a part of the culture:

  • Strong Executive Sponsorship: Google’s leadership is incredibly supportive of g2g, is vocal about the benefits it provides to Google and encourages Googlers to participate. One senior leader went so far as to say: “It’s very unlikely that you’ll ever learn faster, or better than you will from one of your fellow Googlers.”
  • Connection to Core Values: At Google, we pride ourselves on having a culture of giving back and helping others succeed. There are dozens of internal Google programs that reinforce this culture to our employees, from the peer bonus system to TKTK. g2g is all about selflessly volunteering your time to help your fellow Googler be more successful at work and even in life. And what could be more “Googley” than that? 
  • Start Early: We start talking about g2g and giving back right from a Googler’s first day at the company, incorporated into sessions on both culture and career development. Our new hires also get to see g2g in action: g2gers are “the face of Google” for all of our new hires, playing a key role in facilitating our company-wide Noogler Orientation.
  • Interested in learning more? Check out re:Work for more practices, research and ideas on putting people first (g2g section coming soon!).