The Eight Habits of Effective Google Managers

I came across an article in the New York Times that describes Google’s Project Oxygen which is a rigorously statistics driven approach to identify what makes good managers at Google. They analyzed performance reviews, feedback surveys and nominations for top-manager awards….(correlating) phrases, words, praise and complaint.  The Google’s People Analytics team studied the attributes of high-performing teams and published the “Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers.” 

As you read the eight habits below, it surprise me many of the habits Google identified are the very same principles that make up good management on invariably any organization. What, however, amazes me is that no other company would dare to invest resources to undertake a project like this. I admire their attempt to discover their DNA of Googlers and unrelentingly leverage their core competencies in data-driven approach to people side of business which normally are undermined as mere soft skills that’s hard to measure. 

Here are the eight habits of highly effective Google managers and three pitfalls.  The “good habits” are listed in order of priority, from most-important to least-important. Google also identified three pitfalls managers encounter to become  a good Google manager.


8 Habits of Highly Effective Managers

1.Be a good coach.

  • Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive.
  • Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to the problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.

2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage:

  • Balance giving freedom to your employees, while being available for advice.
  • Make stretch assignments to help the team members tackle big problems.

3. 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.

4. Don’t be a sissy: be productive and results-oriented:

  • Focus on what the employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.
  • Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.

5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team:

  • Communication is two-way because you both listen and share information.
  • Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team members to connect the dots.
  • Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.

6. Help your employees with career development.

7. 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.

8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team:

  • Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the tram, when needed.
  • Understand the specific, especially the unique challenges of the work to be done.

Three Pitfalls of Managers

1. Have trouble making a transition to the team

  • Sometimes, fantastic individual contributors are promoted to managers without the necessary skills to lead people.
  • People are hired from outside the organization don’t always understand the unique aspects of managing at Google.

2. Lack of 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

3. Spends too little time managing and communicating .