Take a Peek into the Successful Manager’s Toolbox

What do successful managers have in common? Back in 2008, Google, the data analytics giant, conducted a study called Project Oxygen to find out what makes a good manager at Google. They analyzed more than 10,000 manager impressions including performance reviews, surveys, and nominations for top-manager awards and recognition. In 2018 they did a “re:Work” to update the study and identified the following as the behaviors of Google’s best managers:

  1. Empowers team and does not micromanage
  2. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being
  3. Is productive and results-oriented
  4. Is a good communicator — listens and shares information
  5. Supports career development and discusses performance
  6. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team
  7. Has key technical skills to help advise the team
  8. Collaborates across Google
  9. Is a strong decision maker

Do the same habits that work for managers at one of the biggest technology companies in the world work just as well for your small to medium-sized growing business? You bet they do. Every day our consultants see what works and what doesn’t in companies of all sizes and industries. Knowing the importance of the above habits, we’ve boiled it down to four basic “tools” your managers need to be successful.

Sharing information with employees is just as important as listening to what they have to say. Communication is a two way street. Consider touching base with your team members at least weekly. This helps to keep the lines of communication open and allows you to understand any issues or needs. Every good coach is a good communicator who can connect on both a professional and a personal level.

As reported in Gallup’s December 2019 “8 Behaviors of the World’s Best Managers,” only 20% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they have had a conversation with their manager in the last six months about the steps they can take to reach their goals. Wow. That speaks volumes as to the number of managers who need to make communication a priority.

Honesty is always the best policy, especially when the topic is a tough one, such as addressing performance or behavior issues. This can be especially difficult for new managers. The book Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes are High, by Kerry Patterson and Joseph Grenny is a great resource. Training courses also exist to help with this specific topic.  Don’t assume your managers instinctively know how to conduct crucial conversations; prepare them for it.

While this could fall under the realm of honesty, it’s not exactly the same thing. All too often bad managers keep things very close to the vest and simply do not share. They aren’t comfortable allowing employees to “hold any cards.” Great managers share as much information as possible about the company’s direction, strategy and plans – and this leads to making employees feel involved and invested. When transparency is suspect, culture suffers.

Good managers understand that their employees are whole people. They come to work, but that’s just one aspect of their lives. It’s important to see each employee as a whole person, and provide them development opportunities accordingly. You could equate it to raising kids; you love them all equally, but they each have different talents and needs. Tailor your interactions to bring out the best in each.

Learn More
As Google reports, “Research shows that managers matter.” Visit https://rework.withgoogle.com/  to learn more about their findings. Or join us for one of our upcoming “ELiTe: Emerging Leadership Training for Managers & Supervisors” training events in our Cleveland, Ohio Training Center. The program offers an all-inclusive approach to all things management-related, and will help your managers to fill that toolbox.




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