People leave companies for one of three reasons: a terrible boss, dislike of co-workers or a lack of connection with the company’s mission or the sense that their work matters.
Managers at Google have a much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they feel about their work than any other factor. So Google embarked on an extensive internal research project to determine the most important behaviors of their managers on employee performance. Rather than apply generic management principles, Google uncovered the behaviors most important in its own corporate culture.
Since the company pinpointed the most important behaviors and started teaching them in training, coaching and performance review sessions they have achieved “a statistically significant improvement for 75% of our worst-performing managers,” according to Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for people operations.
More about Google’s data-driven project to understand how to develop management behaviors that make a difference can be found in this recent New York Times article, “Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss.”
Here are the eight behaviors that work for Google, ranked in order of importance. Do you know the most effective behaviors for your company culture? And which are more important than others?
1. Be a good coach
- Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive
- Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths
2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
- Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice.
- Make “stretch” assignments to help them 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 ease their transition
4. Don’t be a sissy: be productive and results-oriented
- Focus on what 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; you both listen and share information
- Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team 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 team, when needed
- Understand the specific challenges of the work