Google is taking a pause.
Last week, Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced that it would slow down hiring for the rest of the year. But a recent email from Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president at Google, revealed that in addition the company will feeze all hiring for two weeks, as reported by The Information.
“We’ll use this time to review our headcount needs and align on a new set of prioritized Staffing Requests for the next three months,” Raghavan reportedly said in the email.
You may not find this surprising. After all, Facebook parent company Meta also recently announced hiring cutbacks, in addition to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s claim that he was “turning up the heat” on Meta employees in the face of a global recession.
But Google’s announcement hinges on a single, very important word:
With the word “pause,” Google demonstrates a more emotionally intelligent approach to Meta’s. At the same time, it provides subtle evidence of a strategy that could help the company save millions of dollars.
Let’s break down each of these lessons, and see what you and your company could learn from it.
(If you find value in the lessons presented here, you might be interested in my emotional intelligence course–which includes 20 more rules that help you develop emotional intelligence in yourself, or in your organization. Check out the course here.)
How Google Used the Pause to Handle Pressure and Make Better Decisions
The pause is the most important of all the tools in your emotional toolbox. To take a pause simply means that you take time to stop and think before you speak or act. On an individual level, a pause can help you to deal with pressure and make better decisions, preventing you from saying or doing something you’ll later regret.
It can do the same for an organization.
Rather than make a bad decision, a pause like Google’s two-week hiring freeze gives the company the opportunity to reassess its needs, goals, and priorities, and make sure its actions align with each of these.
Additionally, Google’s hiring pause sends the message that it’s trying its best to continue working with current employees, before onboarding new ones. That’s a far cry from Zuckerberg’s “turn up the heat” message, in which the Meta CEO made this blatant statement:
“Realistically, there are probably a bunch of people at the company who shouldn’t be here.”
In contrast, Raghavan’s email is right in line with with recent words we heard from Google and Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai:
“Making the company more efficient is up to all of us,” Pichai wrote in a recent memo. “We’ll be creating more ways for you all to engage and share ideas to help, so stay tuned.”
But there’s another reason Google’s announcement is smart, and ironically, it’s a “Meta” manager who pointed it out. Andre Nader, who identifies himself as a Product Growth Manager at Meta, posted an interesting take on LinkedIn, in response to the news of Google’s hiring freeze.
“Pausing for two weeks sounds trivial,” wrote Nader. But that could end up making it easier to further reduce hiring growth by another 10%.”
Nader highlighted that there are only 23 weeks left in the year. And if you remove the three major holiday weeks, he says, where hiring overall slows down, you are left with only 20 weeks in the year to make offers. “Removing two weeks from that gets you to that 10% number,” says Nader.
Nader points out the caveat that hiring isn’t linear, but also highlights that “this is an interesting lever that Google is pulling just ahead of their earnings announcement next week Monday.” After all, if you consider Google’s hiring statistics over the past years, it’s easy to see how this adjustment could save the company millions.
So, what are the takeaways for business owners and leaders?
When circumstances take a quick turn for the worse, as they have in recent weeks, it’s easy to panic. The mounting pressure may cause you to feel that you need to make quick decisions–or, as Zuckerberg put it, that you need to “turn up the heat.”
But acting before you think things through is an example of low emotional intelligence, or EQ. In contrast, taking time to pause and rethink strategy, while inspiring the team to work together to pull through, are examples of high EQ actions.
So, as you and your company face unexpected and scary challenges, remember this smart Google reply: Pause, review, rethink, and realign.
Because a pause can make all the difference between emotional, and emotionally intelligent.