The Eight things Employees like in their Managers – A Google Study

March 30th, 2011 by Sarah Green Leave a reply »

Google has been thought of by many as an exceptional place to work. Somewhere that creativity and innovation is harnessed and staff are given time and space to generate ground breaking ideas. With the change in structure and rapid growth, this entrepreneurial environment has significantly changed. A larger company atmosphere has followed and as a result red tape, meeting fatigue and politics has replaced the time to be creative for creative’s sake.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s Head of Human Resources, told The New York Times that “in the Google context, we’d always believed that to be a manager, particularly on the engineering side, you need to be as deep or deeper technical expert than the people who work for you. It turns out that that’s absolutely the least important thing. It’s importance but pales in comparison. Much more important is just making that connection and being accessible.

Project Oxygen was launched following the identification that “the single biggest variable among employees’ reasons for leaving Google was the quality of their managers”. The project was designed to identify leadership qualities which were desirable and transform this information into coaching methodologies that could be replicated across the business to enhance manager performance. Through the analysis of internal surveys and performance management information, the statisticians identified through qualitative and quantitative data that employees wanted to see eight behaviours among their managers, ranked by importance:

1. Be a good coach by providing specific feedback and solutions, balancing negative and positive
2. Don’t micromanage but give your team challenging assignments and freedom in completing them
3. Show interest in their general wellbeing
4. Be productive and results-orientated by using your position to help your team achieve what they want
5. Communicate and listen to everyone’s concerns
6. Help your employees with career development
7. Have a clear vision and strategy
8. Have the key technical skills to help the team when necessary

The findings of Google are not uncommon. They have established that a technical expert does not always make the best manager and that when promoted, the skills required to lead a team differ significantly from those of a successful individual contributor. It is therefore important as your top performer’s transition from team member to manager, that they understand the qualities of an inspirational and successful leader; also that organisations help them to achieve their potential through support, personal development and coaching.

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Adapted from Source: Philip Delves Broughton, Evening Standard 21st March 2011

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