How to out-manage Google in six steps

When we look at industry leaders in any sector, it seems their managers do so many things so well that it’s impossible to imitate or surpass them. But that’s not necessarily true.

If you’re a manager, you can get key pointers from the survey below. It lists six specific areas in which the managers of America’s most reputable companies make a difference their businesses. Google managers used them to give Google the best reputation in the US.

First, the leader list. Each year Harris Interactive, Inc. ranks the 60 most visible US companies. These companies get to the top because management puts into place specific programs that all stakeholders appreciate. Doesn’t matter whether it’s the janitor or the biggest client, these changes are perceived at all levels.

This year’s top ranking company, as reported in the 7/15/08 issue of the AMA’s Marketing News, is Google. No surprise there. What other company is so big, and yet managed so well?

The full rankings are:

1. Google
2. Johnson & Johnson
3. Intel Corporation
4. General Mills
5. Kraft Foods
6. Berkshire-Hathaway, Inc.
7. 3M Company
8. The Coca-Cola Company
9. Honda Motor Company
10. Microsoft.

How did Google and the rest of these household names make it to the top? Based on six criteria. This is your crib sheet to excellence:

1. Social responsibility

2. Emotional appeal

3. Financial performance

4. Products and services

5. Vision and leadership

6. Workplace environment

The value of this list is that it gives you specific ways that big companies improve their reputations.

Most readers of this blog do not run a company big enough to contend for the top 60 list, let alone make “social responsibility” a key area for improvement. But every company can choose several specific areas from this list where it can make a concerted effort to improve. If you can build your rep among your own employees, customers, and stakeholders, you’re also laying the foundation for future profits.

For example, “workplace environment.” The addition of a microwave, a small fridge, an air conditioner, a water cooler, or any small appliance can make a big difference for the people who work there. None of these items costs more than a couple of hundred dollars, yet they can boost employee attitude and performance by showing that management (that’s you) cares about employee comfort.

And you know what? Happier employees are more productive, get sick less often, and take fewer days off.

If you don’t know where to start at your workplace, ask your people! Bring them in on the decision, even if it’s a small one. Multiple good suggestions? Make a second upgrade in six months. Your one-year investment in a better workplace comes to less than $300. How many saved sick days does it take to make back a $300 investment?

That’s just one example. You should look at all six metrics, decide which ones apply to you, then pick the area where you’re weakest as a place to start.

Or not. The important thing is to get started. Building your rep, even if it’s only with your own employees and in your own town, is not accomplished by some mysterious amalgam of voodoo, blind luck, and consumer whim. It’s based on concrete, tried-and-true management techniques that have worked for the most successful companies in the US. You don’t have to conduct research to find out what those techniques are – it’s been done for you. All you have to do is apply them to your organization.

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