Getting these programs to work, though, is tricky. Management experts say it is all well and good to send employees to classes, but to get the lessons to stick, employees need to apply them to their daily work lives. Employees often take a class and “say, ‘Gee, this is great,’ and go back to their jobs and do the same old thing,” says Professor David Bradford, director of the executive program in leadership at Stanford University.
Google thinks it has found a way to make its learning stick. It has become more exacting about when it offers classes and to whom. It uses employee reviews of managers—similar to the instructor reviews that college students fill out at the end of a semester—to suggest courses to managers. Ever data-obsessed, Google uses statistics gathered from current and former employees to recommend certain courses to managers at different points in their career, say after a move to a new city or joining a new team.