To engineer better managers, Google pored over performance reviews, feedback surveys and award nominations, correlating words and phrases as only a data-drive company like it can do. Here is an edited list of the directives it produced – in order of importance – as well as a few management pitfalls it found.
Eight Good Behaviors
- Be a good coach
- Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive.
- Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employee’s specific strengths.
- Empower your team and don’t micromanage
- Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.
- Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
- Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work.
- Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition.
- Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
- Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.
- Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.
- Be a good communicator and listen to your team
- Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information.
- Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots.
- Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.
- Help your employees with career development
- Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
- Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy.
- Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.
- Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
- Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed.
- Understand the specific challenges of the work.
Three Pitfalls of Managers
- Have trouble making a transition to the team
- Sometimes, fantastic individual contributors are promoted to managers without the necessary skills to lead people.
- People hired from outside the organization don’t always understand the unique aspects of managing at Google.
- Lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development
- Don’t help employees understand how these work at Google and doesn’t coach them on their options to develop and stretch.
- Not proactive, waits for the employee to come to them.
- Spend too little time managing and communicating