The Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers

Google is one of the most sought after and popular employers in the world, so it is no surprise that there are a lot of article written about how they have built their culture. This article pulls together content from a number of sources to look at the management principles that Google has applied and why.

According to the New York Times, people leave a company for one of three reasons or a combination of the three. The reasons are firstly that the individuals do not feel a deep connection with the company mission or feel that their work matters. Secondly a dislike for or lack of respect for their co-workers. Third, they have a terrible boss, which is the most common reason by a long way.

Managers also had a much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor

Google from NYT article ‘Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss’

in 2002 Google experimented removing managers from the hierarchy all together, they identified that managers were “critical not only for structure and clarity, but also for team performance”. 

Back in 2008 Google a company that is globally famed for its High Performance Culture decided that they actually had a problem retaining staff and understanding why some staff left. Studying the quarterly performance reviews, Google identified that they saw huge swings in the ratings that employees gave their bosses. They commenced a study ‘Project Oxygen’ to better understand the relationship between the Googlers and the Managers, it probably comes as no surprise that strong effective communication and empowering team members were the top traits of good managers.

The Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers:

  1. Be a good coach: Through regular one-on-one’s, consistent feedback and balancing the negative feedback with the positive.
  2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage: Be able for advice and give your employees freedom.
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.
  4. Don’t be a sissy, be productive and results oriented: Focus on what the team wants to achieve and how they get it. Use leadership to remove obstacles and help the team prioritize.
  5. Be a communicator and listen to your team: Create an environment of open dialogue, listen, and be straightforward about team goals.
  6. Help employees with career development and discusses performance.
  7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team: Help the team stay focused on goals and strategy, include the team in the creating the vision.
  8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team: When needed do the work with the team, understand the challenges the team will face.

According to website ‘The Prosperous Leader’ there were two more habits introduced in 2019
9. Collaborates across Google: Managers setting the example in removing silo’s across the organisation with stronger and more deliberate connections between people, teams, functions and locations
10. Makes Strong decisions. Managers act swiftly to ensure team’s work stays on track.

Coincidentally Julie Zhuo from VP of Design at Facebook has eight important principles that she believes every manager who aspires to be a great leader should practice they are:

  1. Know why you want to manage
  2. Provide proper evaluation
  3. Gauge the happiness of the team
  4. Give unconditional respect
  5. Be vulnerable
  6. Cultivate culture
  7. Master the art of filtering
  8. Ask for feedback

Both of these lists emphasise the need to build an organisational culture that is centred around clarity of direction, feedback, respect and regular communications.

Key Takeaways

  • Google run quarterly reviews where all employees are able to provide feedback about their managers. This identified a trend and the eight habits.
  • Just having a good list isn’t enough you need to develop the skills with your managers
  • Review and update the list over time as the culture continues to change
Synopsis referencing two articles:
3 Ways Google Creates a High-Performance Culture
By Tiffany Toombs
Published 11th August 2020

Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss
From The New York Times
By Adam Bryant
Published 12th March 2011

8 (sorry, 10) Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers
From The Prosperous Leader
By Michael Schneider
Published 10th February 2019 

8 Habits Of Highly Effective Managers
From Forbes
by Omaid Homayun
Published 5th May 2019

Leave a Reply