If you’re a student of organizational design and leadership excellence, you may be familiar with Google’s Project Oxygen. Ten years ago, the tech giant studied their management system. They identified key traits that managers needed at Google. Recently, Google updated its management manifesto. The company's findings may surprise you.
From the outside, Google appears to be populated by tech geeks who skateboard down halls while they contemplate the ones and zeros of the digital world. Not so, Project Oxygen found. Many of the top skills needed by successful managers at Google fall into the humanistic category. The company reports that its top managers are good coaches, good communicators and empower their teams. These managers also have defined solid strategies for their teams. Of the eight desired management skills, only one is related to technology: “has key technical skills to help advise the team.”
This outcome doesn't sound very different from the desired skill set for managers at many companies. What Google did next shows that leadership is paying attention. They want the company to remain a market leader. For that to happen, it must meet the needs of its employees.
When Google reviewed the relevance of its previous work on its managers last year, they studied a couple of new areas. After all, in the past ten years, the company had grown exponentially. Leadership surveyed its employees and found team members “wanted to see more effective cross-organization collaboration and stronger decision-making practices from leaders.” Employees were asking for change.
Leadership responded. The list of desired management qualities now contains ten items. The newly added qualities are: “Collaborates across Google” and “Is a strong decision maker.” In addition, the company updated other qualities. Good managers at Google are now striving to support career development and discuss performance. In addition, the best managers maintain an inclusive team environment.
Organizations are living and breathing entities. Over time, as organizations grow, and products and services evolve, management must change. Google recognized this need and you can, too. Identifying and adapting to the needs of employees will help leadership maintain marketplace excellence, reduce turnover and increase loyalty.