6 Key Attributes Google Instills in Its New Managers

6 Key Attributes Google Instills in Its New Managers

Google trains new managers in these six areas to make them highly effective leaders.

When you think of the word “manager,” you associate it with leadership. (Or, at least, I do.) But the two don’t necessarily go hand in hand.

Being a manager is just a position; a leader is something more. Oftentimes the skills that get people promoted to the managerial level don’t necessarily make them effective leaders. Then you’re stuck with managers that can’t lead, and that’s a problem. (See How to Be a Bad Leader: 6 Common Characteristics of Poor Leadership.)

Lucky for us, organizations like Google have spent years researching what makes an effective manager. Using Project Oxygen, an internal study analyzing more than 10,000 manager impressions, Google identified 8 habits of highly effective managers, which the company now uses to train new managers. Google shares this presentation through the re:Work website, which focuses on 6 key attributes.

6 key attributes of highly effective managers

1. Mindset and values

Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor of psychology at Stanford University, studied the science of growth mindset, the belief that intelligence can be cultivated. Project Oxygen showed that productive leaders live this philosophy at work. They are eager to learn, take risks, and challenge themselves — all of which ultimately boost their performance.

Also, Google empowers new managers to leverage their individual values in their management styles. This drives deeper meaning into their work and supports them when they, inevitably, need to make tough decisions.

2. Emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize emotions in yourself and others, and leverage this awareness to manage behavior and relationships. Managers who are emotionally intelligent make better decisions, communicate more effectively, and seem more relatable to employees. They can better control the emotional climate of the workplace by anticipating employees’ needs and creating an environment that supports them.

3. Manager transition

Google has new managers share the challenges, surprises, and frustrations of their transition from individual contributor to supervisor. This not only teaches that it’s ok to be vulnerable and honest, but also encourages others to offer advice and to help devise actionable new strategies.

4. Coaching

A good coach nurtures and grows the talent on his/her team. The positive effects impact more than just team performance. Research by the Human Capital Institute and the International Coaching Federation shows that a strong coaching culture increases employee engagement and revenue growth.

Google defines good coaching as:

  1. Timely and specific feedback
  2. Delivering hard feedback in a motivational and thoughtful way
  3. Tailoring approaches to meet individual communication styles in regular one-on-one meetings
  4. Practicing empathetic “active” listening and being fully present
  5. Being cognizant of your own mindset and that of the employee
  6. Asking open-ended questions to discover an employee’s acumen

5. Feedback

Embrace bad news to learn where you need the most improvement.” — Bill Gates

The purpose of feedback is to improve performance and foster professional growth. But words can hurt, and employees can interpret constructive criticism as an attack. Thus, the ability to provide feedback effectively is essential for any manager.

Google teaches new managers to be consistent across their teams when delivering feedback, and to balance the negative with positive. It’s also important to treat these conversations as a dialogue, not a monologue. Being authentic and stating growth opportunities in a clear and compassionate way will build trust between new managers and their employees.

6. Decision making

Effective leaders take on the tough task of making decisions and, often, with little time to deliberate. Managers make decisions taking into account their personal values, as well as the values of their organization, and they must be consistent over time.

It’s also important that managers occasionally throw their ideas out to their team and ask for feedback. By creating solutions that are based on a comprehensive understanding of the issue, managers are able to make decisions based on their internal compass, as well as the feedback from others.

After implementing this new-manager training program, Google saw statistically significant improvement in 75% of its underperforming managers. That speaks to the impact these 6 areas have on the effectiveness of new managers. And managers have a major impact on the effectiveness of their teams. So a great new manager can be all the difference for a company. In the words of Andrew Carnegie, “People don’t like to follow leaders who are dedicated only to their own personal glory, but they will sacrifice everything for leaders and communities who give them a higher calling, a greater purpose.’”

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