Be accessible, listen well and be consistent! 8 simple management rules from Google

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

  1. Be a good coach
  2. Empower your team
  3. Express interest in team members personally and in their success.
  4. Be productive and results oriented
  5. Communicate well and LISTEN WELL
  6. Help your employees with career development
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
  8. 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

  1. Have trouble making the transition to team / leader (from being an expert / individual contributor).
  2. Lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development
  3. 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.

8 rules

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: coaching@aeona.co.uk  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.

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Leadership makes a difference

Abundant evidence shows that great leadership makes a difference both personally and to the organisation’s success and results in higher performance, productivity and profitability.  Great leadership also leads to higher performance in the triple bottom line – organisational health, people’s engagement in the workplace, how much they commit to doing the best they can, having a positive culture at work, long term sustainability for the organisation and the sense of responsibility to the community and environment.  It’s not just about work and making money, but also making the world a better place while you are doing it.

 

I believe everyone is capable of being a leader and my purpose is to liberate the leader within each one of us.  Leadership can be learnt and it is about mindset, behaviours and emotional intelligence.  I am currently part of the team delivering a massive leadership development programme for a global company that’s based in UK.  They are investing millions to secure their future sustainability and success through improving leadership at all levels throughout the company.  I want to make leadership development more accessible for smaller businesses and organisations because I believe it will make a real difference.  I’m offering discounted leadership programmes for women leaders and aspiring leaders in Scotland and for people in Midlothian and Edinburgh as many small businesses find it difficult to justify the spend.  These programmes are  eligible for FTO grant funding.  Also, I think many business owners don’t see how leadership would be relevant to them.  I often hear “well, I can see why it’s relevant in larger organisations but I just have a few people, we don’t need it…”  I wonder how much this is due to not really appreciating the difference good leadership makes in groups of all types and sizes – whether it is a family, a business, a volunteer group or a multi-national organisation.

AeonaLeader

Aeona’s summary combining concepts of authentic and centered leadership

I often encounter situations that resonate with my first experience of leadership.  No-one ever thought to mention to me that leadership is something you can learn, that it even exists as a subject.  I got a job leading an expedition to the South Pacific and my focus was entirely on the tasks required to deliver results and make it happen – logistics, planning, developing connections with relevant local people, designing the study projects, budgeting, raising sponsorship, etc.  I ran a team building event, where we all met each other for the first time and it went down very well.  If I ever thought about it, I assumed everyone was motivated for the same reasons I was and that what worked well for me would work well for them.  How wrong I was!  I’ve subsequently learnt that everyone brings their own perspective, own desires, own motivations, own personality and own ways of doing things to the table, and when you can recognise, understand, empathise and engage with all of that diversity, and connect their own meanings with the organisation’s purpose, then everyone will achieve tasks so much better, drive performance and have fun too.

 

Leadership happens in our relationships with people and differs according to the different contexts and situations we find ourselves in.  Yet how often are managers and other people in leadership positions focusing primarily on the tasks involved?  How often do people end up in leadership positions or running small businesses because of their expertise and knowledge, but don’t get any training in leading  and inspiring other people to do the work?  How many people have created processes and ways of working for the team, company or business because that’s the way that worked successfully for them in the past?  How much of your people’s skills, creativity, knowledge and capability remains untapped because you don’t know about it?  How often do you take time to discover what motivates your people and tie this in with their work?  How much more could your people be engaged at work and what difference could that make to your organisation’s performance?

 

If you can

  • be authentic, be yourself, be confident and live by your values,
  • create an inspiring purpose and meaning for the work in the organisation,
  • inspire your people so they know how they make a difference to the company success,
  • give them autonomy and encourage their desire to do their job to the best of their ability and maintain high standards,

what difference would that make to how it feels to come in to work and to your company’s future?

What difference would that make to your own future?

 

 

Please do get in touch if you’d like to talk about it.  🙂

 

 

Please contact me if you’d like me to send you some of the evidence for leadership making a difference or about the FTO grants for training in Scotland. email info@aeona.co.uk

 

For the specially discounted leadership programmes please see these links:

Women Leaders Special:    http://aeona.co.uk/aeonaILMwomen.htm

Midlothian and Edinburgh Leaders Special:  http://aeona.co.uk/aeonaILMmidlothian.htm

 

 

 

The Power of Attention

Happy New Year!

A quick thought for a positive start to the new year on the power of attention 🙂

“What we give our attention to, grows”  Ken Blanchard

Where we focus our attention influences the results we get – if we focus on the negatives, we tend not to notice the positives and often create situations that demoralise people.  When we reward people with a positive response when something is done well or we like it, people usually want to continue that behaviour.

When we are aware of something, we also pay it more attention. A classic example is when we bought a new midnight blue car, we thought there weren’t that many cars of this colour on the road, especially our model. Now, we see not only cars of this colour but also this model and colour everywhere!

What do you want to be more aware of this year? What will you focus your attention on to bring you positive results in 2013?

Are you so busy looking for what you think you need that you can’t see what’s right in front of you?

Are you sure you will recognise success when you find it? (or it finds you?) How fixed is your idea of success? Or are you open to the idea that it might not look anything like you expect, so you might want to consider how you will recognise it when it comes along….

I have just come back from recycling a load of bottles someone left in my flat. To save overflowing our recycling bins at home, I made a detour to the local Tesco’s recycling point. I was rather disappointed to see that it had been closed up, with solid metal shutters across the sections that must be for various glass collections. There seemed to be only a couple of sections open with a container to leave textiles. As I drove past it, a traffic jam appeared out of nowhere in the car park lane in front of me, forcing me to wait at the exit. Frustrated at having to waste yet more time when I just wanted to get home, I watched in the rear view mirror as another car pulled up at the recycling point and a man got out with a box of bottles. Curious now, I saw him pressing buttons at what I thought was the textiles point, so I reversed, parked and took my bottles to investigate.

It wasn’t closed up at all. It just wasn’t the usual recycling system I was used to, where you have a large container with a hole in it that you push bottles into – and a different container or section for each colour of bottle, or plastic or tin. No, this is just one large outer container with a multipurpose bucket that you put things in. The wonders of modern technology! Not only does the machine identify the items and save you time sorting them yourself, it also gives you green points on your loyalty card! Your items are collected and conveyed, much like a snacks vending machine, to the relevant bin, accompanied by a satisfying sound of smashing glass somewhere at the far end of the container.

(So it seems even traffic jams have their good points – if it hadn’t just suddenly appeared, literally as I reached the exit, I would no doubt still be under the mistaken impression the recycling point was closed up!)

Ok, this is a rather mundane example, but it got me thinking. If I can’t even recognise a recycling point when I’m specifically looking for it, what else am I missing in life or in work because I’ve got too fixed an idea of what it should be like? How do we help ourselves recognise the opportunities of change?

Why do values make a difference?

What happens if your boss or someone at work asks you to take short-cuts? Do you think this is a great idea and will save time and money?  Do you think this will compromise your work or other issues you think are important, such as safety, health, legal regulations and so on? Do you feel able to say no or discuss it? Do you think your boss recognises the implications? Do you feel they just don’t get it? Do you feel your job may be under threat so you just need to go along with what you are asked? How stressed would you feel?

Values play a fundamental role in how we perceive and interact with the world, how we interpret events and other peoples actions and behaviours. Its not always obvious. Our values and beliefs are often a sub-conscious filter through which we interpret everything around us and so play a fundamental role in how we respond – in our thoughts and behaviour. This sub-conscious influence sometimes leads to apparently irrational behaviour and decisions that are at best not constructive and often destructive or disastrous.

We acquire our values and beliefs over our entire lifetime, accepting the ways of our culture, our parents, our teachers and others around us. They may have been extremely valuable at the time we took them on board, but sometimes they outlive their usefulness and lead to behaviour that is no longer helpful in our current situation. Time spent reflecting on knowing our values and beliefs and evaluating how useful they continue to be to us right now, is time well spent.

Raising our conscious awareness of our values and beliefs gives us much more control over our personal thoughts and behaviour and makes us more aware of why we feel the way we do about a situation or person. It guides our choices and decision making at a conscious level and helps us to recognise when a choice does actually exist, even if the alternatives are somewhat unpalatable. We might recognise when our subconscious hijacks the decision making process when we feel there is only one way forward and no options.

So how does this extend to a team or whole organisation? Jeremy Darroch, chief executive of BSkyB, gave three great examples at the recent Institute of Directors Annual Convention. Fostering the mindset “Believe in Better” has created a culture where everyone at BSkyB applies innovative thinking to everything they do every day, right across the business from product development to accounts. Maintaining a consistent value set and core beliefs guided Procter and Gamble to move quickly and grow sustainably from a small enterprise selling soap up the Ohio River to a global company.

When values are a key component of strategy and are motivating – made real and alive from the executive team down, not just words on a page – they give people guidance in a way that rules and procedures alone do not. The strength comes from a clear value set that reaffirms the behaviour, actions and decisions made by all in the organisation. Getting everyone in the organisation involved and knowing how their role connects with the company success, focuses and guides everyone in one direction, even when facing new situations that rules and procedures do not (yet) cover. In contrast, consider Jeremy Darroch’s third example, the recent banking debacle – once people crossed the line beyond the rule book, they could and did go anywhere. In a rapidly changing world, consistent values and beliefs guide the way to sustainable success.

Values and beliefs are a core component of Aeona’s new open programmes for leadership development. Please tell us what you think is important to include in a leadership development course or programme. Enter our short survey here and you could win £50 in Amazon Vouchers.

Click through to our website for information on the short course, Inner Leadership, or 12 month Exceptional Leader Programme.

The Power of Purpose

Its summer and barbeque time! While I was at a barbeque celebrating my niece’s one and a half birthday, I found myself deep in conversation with another guest, Karen, about our respective professions. It turned out she is a psychologist with a healthy scepticism for coaches, due to the ever expanding number of people setting themselves up as coaches without any training in the profession at all. Yet, she was pleasantly surprised by my approach to coaching which she said resonated strongly with her.

Many clients who come to me for coaching don’t have a very specific issue to address but rather broader questions around building confidence, developing leadership and managing their career. I encourage them to spend time working in our early sessions, and to reflect between sessions, on their values, beliefs and purpose. They find this approach pays dividends in achieving their more intangible goals like knowing what they want to do and being more confident. Why? I feel a sense of purpose and knowing your values and beliefs brings

  • personal meaning;
  • a sense of being;
  • knowing who you are and what is important to you and what you stand for;
  • a sense of harmony, peace and well being when you are living in alignment with your core values;
  • a feeling of direction and energy;
  • being true to yourself;
  • respecting yourself; and
  • self belief, self confidence and self esteem, which is honest and not misplaced or falsely built up; based on evidence you can prove to yourself, recognising your own achievements and contributions without claiming those of others.

Having a sense of purpose can make a real difference to the way we feel about ourselves and how we live our lives. Karen reminded me of Frankl, an Austrian psychologist who survived the holocaust and helped other inmates in concentration camps during the first world war. He noticed that survivors of these terrible places were those people who felt a sense of purpose. For some it was love for children or a wife that gave them a meaning to cling to, or a talent to be used, or perhaps lingering memories they felt worth preserving. The people who felt they had nothing to live for died quickest. The people who felt a sense of purpose found meaning even in these most miserable conditions and survived.

Most of us now are fortunate – we live in incredibly good conditions in comparison, yet still we feel stress or a lack of direction or confidence. Taking time to discover our sense of purpose can help us release our full potential, turn our dreams into reality and be who we want to be.

Next time – where do our beliefs and values come from and what can we do about them!