What is the value of a manager? What makes a good manager? Do we even need managers in the first place? Challenging questions all. Now would be a great time to ask Google–no, really!
The head honchos at Google actually asked themselves the same questions for years until finally determining that yes, the company did in fact need managers, and they needed good ones. Google’s engineers are the cream of the crop, so their managers had better be just as good. Keeping this in mind, Google launched Project Oxygen, a project whose goal was to determine what makes Google’s best managers the best, and the results were very enlightening.
After analyzing the data gathered from employee surveys, Google determined that its best managers abide by the following eight ideals:
1. Is a good coach.
2. Empowers the team and doesn’t micromanage.
3. Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being.
4. Is productive and results-oriented.
5. Is a good communicator–Listens and shares information.
6. Helps with career development.
7. Has a clear vision and strategy for the team.
8. Has key technical skills that help him/her to advise the team.
Interesting to note is that the possession of technical skills, while important, is not as important as, say, being a good coach or an effective communicator. This may have something to do with the fact that, according to one manager at Google, “Engineers hate being micromanaged on the technical side, but they love being closely managed on the career side.” Google has even implemented training to help its management team improve in each of these eight areas as needed, and as a result, now has a company full of engineers who appreciate the value of management.