The New York Times published a fascinating article about research at Google on what makes effective managers. Although it was published a few years ago, it is still useful today.
Google noticed that their best managers “have teams that perform better, are retained better, are happier — they do everything better” says Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for ‘people operations’ (HR). It was down to the quality of the manager and how they made things happen. Google collected masses of data to answer questions about “What if every manager was that good? What makes them that good? And how do you do it?”
Google’s data showed that managers had a much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor. Poor managers are the biggest variable causing people to leave the company (the other two reasons people leave are i) are lack of feeling their work matters or a connection to the company’s mission and ii) not liking or respecting their colleagues).
Google used to think it was vital that managers had deep technical expertise and be more expert than their team members. Their management philosophy was to ‘leave the engineers to get on with their stuff and they will ask when they need help’.
BUT their in-depth data analysis showed that people valued managers MOST when they made time for them, listened and were consistent. Employees valued most their even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped them puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in their lives and careers. They found that technical expertise is important but ranked last among Google’s eight key factors of great managers.
Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers
- Be a good coach
- Empower your team
- Express interest in team members personally and in their success.
- Be productive and results oriented
- Communicate well and LISTEN WELL
- Help your employees with career development
- Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
- Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team – but you don’t need to be as expert or more expert than the experts in your team!
Three pitfalls of managers
- Have trouble making the transition to team / leader (from being an expert / individual contributor).
- Lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development
- Spend too little time managing and communicating.
Google makes the facts known to their managers, so they know what works and doesn’t work. They don’t tell the managers what to do, managers decide for themselves. Google’s data for how to be a great manager in their company echo’s other research about what makes managers effective in other companies. These 8 rules are simple and probably applicable in most companies.
If you can make yourself accessible, listen well and be consistent, and apply these 8 rules in the priority listed above, what difference will that make to your own and your team’s performance?
If you would like to talk to me about coaching around being a more effective manager, please do get in touch. You can also check out the Aeona webpage for more information about what I do: www.aeona.co.uk
Sue Mitchell email: firstname.lastname@example.org telephone +44 1875 830708 or use the contact form below – please make sure you spell your email address correctly for me to be able to reply to you.