If you’re a listener to the Synergy Performance podcast, The Growth Project (listen here: The Growth Project podcast) you know we’ve spent quite a bit of time in recent episodes discussing Project Aristotle – Google’s data study on what makes the most effective teams within their organization. That research, and specifically the concept of psychological safety, has recently made waves through the business and sports worlds after it was discussed in detail in Charles Duhigg’s most recent book, Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity. However, Google’s first bit of hallmark research on their organization came 10 years ago in a study called Project Oxygen. In 2008, Google set out to answer several questions regarding managers. First, they were interested in learning whether managers matter at all and if quality management had an impact on a team’s performance. These initial examinations revealed that managers did, in fact, matter and that teams with great managers reported higher levels of happiness and more productivity. Once they determined that managers did matter, Google set out to investigate the characteristics that made managers great. Like Project Aristotle, in which they set out to determine what variables separated the ‘good’ teams from the ‘great’ teams at Google, the researchers behind Project Oxygen sought to provide clarity on what characteristics their great managers possessed. Originally, they found eight characteristics and behaviors that great managers embodied. More recently, Google revisited Project Oxygen and found an additional two characteristics that great managers possess and updated two of the original behaviors. Below is the complete list of 10 characteristics.
A great manager at Google:
1. Is a good coach.
2. Empowers team and does not micromanage.
3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.
4. Is productive and results-oriented.
5. Is a good communicator – listens and shares information.
6. Supports career development and discusses performance.
7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team.
8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team.
9. Collaborates across Google.
10. Is a strong decision maker.
If you’re like us, you’re probably wondering, “What can I do with this information?” Great question. First, look at the guide that Google provided to help you in determining if great managers or coaches matter at your organization or within your team, and how to find out what characteristics and behaviors positively influence your team’s happiness and performance (Google’s Guide). Once you determine the behaviors
that define great management within your organization or team, you can invest in the growth of and support managers and coaches in these areas or find professional development opportunities for them to increase their knowledge base with these skills.
Here’s the bottom line: great managers make great teams. Google’s research is providing a blueprint for how to make your organization or team more effective. Based on the findings of Project Oxygen, if you can develop or hire great managers or coaches, team members are happier and more productive. By ‘getting the right people on the bus’ or developing the right skillsets in your managers, you can create a work environment that people enjoy being at and teams that produce – doesn’t that sound like a successful organization or team?