27694542_sThe goal for Google from at the start, as a dissertation topic at Stanford, was to improve Internet search. That goal has grown and morphed into many interesting iterations today, including Google rules for managers developed from Project Oxygen in 2009. Google’s HR team had a mission to build better bosses. The approach was to deconstruct existing practices for performance reviews, manager awards, and feedback, along with extensive interviews with their best managers, to develop a blueprint for how Google managers should behave and manage.

Google’s deep dive into what the best managers do and accomplish revealed that while Google’s managers do need to understand the technical aspects of the business, those with the most or the top technical skills just weren’t the best managers. That esteem was saved for bosses who meet with their employees one-on-one, help people who work with them by asking questions to figure things out, and are genuinely interested in the people who work with them. Check out the Google way to manage and see how your management compares.


Manager Red Flags

Google defines great managers by eight behaviors that Project Oxygen uncovered, but they also found three bad behaviors that signal poor managers. Even if they have great experience and a history of effective contributions, those who have trouble fitting in with the culture and the team in place, and who don’t have good leadership skills won’t be good managers.

Managers who don’t care about employees and their work, and don’t actively engage in employee development such as coaching and helping employees understand performance management aren’t as effective as managers who do. The third bad behavior that signals a poor manager is spending little time actively managing people and communicating.

Do your managers exhibit any of these three bad behaviors, or perhaps all of them? If so, read on to see Google’s rules for better management.


Google’s Definition of Highly Effective Managers

The eight things that distinguish great managers from good managers are being a good coach, empowering rather than micromanaging, taking real interest in employees, being productive and results-oriented, good communication and listening skills, helping employees with career development, having a clear team vision and strategy, and having the right technical skills to be a resource.

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All eight factors paint a picture of a boss who is committed to employee success by spending a significant amount of time building the capabilities of the team and the individuals on it.

The most important characteristic of great managers that Google learned from Project Oxygen was being a good coach. Google’s best managers regularly meet individually with their employees to give specific and constructive feedback, discuss customized solutions that play to employees’ strengths, and work on development opportunities. They actively listen and share information so there are no surprises, and are open to work issues and concerns to understand work challenges.

Great managers are available without micromanaging, giving employees freedom to get the work done but giving advice when needed. They pay attention to their employees’ career status and aspirations to give employees opportunities to learn and grow and help with career development. They make it a priority to get to know their employees well, make new employees feel welcome, and develop good working relationships while focusing on productivity and results. Great managers involve employees in goal setting and developing team vision and strategy to keep a strong focus on productivity and results.


How to Implement Google Rules for Your Managers

Google isn’t the world’s most appealing employer by accident. The strong, almost obsessive focus on company culture along with Project Oxygen’s goals to improve how Google bosses manage employees is something any company can do.

Use Google’s eight rules for great managers or create your own management model defining the foundation of what you want and expect your managers to do. Communicate it to all managers, teach them how, monitor them, and practice the basics to change behavior. Then have the team assess performance against the model so everyone is working together to change and improve. Soon you’ll have great managers focused on the right things just like Google.


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