Google Has A Breakthrough

One of the fascinating aspects of growing older is to witness that which has been established for eons announced as an epiphany for an individual or organization. Such was my experience as I read an article about Google in the Harvard Business Review.

Authored by David Garvin, it is entitled: How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management. Garvin shares how over the history of Google, the company has distrusted the impact and necessity of traditional management. “Managers were perceived as more destructive than beneficial.” But, as the company grew rapidly, it was soon realized that good managers made a significant contribution to the success of the company.

Google, however, is data driven and if change or processes are to be implemented, logic and data rule. So to convince the thousands of skeptical engineers that management was not just a distraction from their main work, “Google launched Project Oxygen, a multiyear research initiative. It has since grown into a comprehensive program that measures key management behaviors and cultivates them through communication and training.”

Now it is not my intention to re-invent Mr. Garvin’s article which is an excellent and worthwhile read (HBR-December 2013.) My goal is to bring you the result of the Google research which is identified as: “What Google’s Best Managers Do.” I hope, however, you will understand my sense of intrigue for the list contains best practices championed by management guru, the late Peter Drucker, who started studying and writing about successful companies long before most of the Google engineers were even born.

But, perhaps now, Google has proven unquestionably that going from good to great starts with what we at TransForm help companies do every day – lead and grow people.

According to Google a good manager:
1) Is a good coach

2) Empowers the team and does not micromanage

3) Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being

4) Is productive and results oriented

5) Is a good communicator – listens and shares information

6) Helps with career development

7) Has a clear vision and strategy for the team

8) Has key technical skills that help him or her advise the team

As Garvin begins to summarize the effect of Google’s data driven approach to management he says: “Project Oxygen has accomplished what it set out to do….Widespread adoption has had a significant impact on how employees perceive life at Google – particularly on how they rate the degree of collaboration, the transparency of performance evaluations, and their groups’ commitment to innovation and risk taking.”

I am reminded of the Peter Allen song: Everything old is new again.

About David McNally

David McNally, CEO & President of TransForm Corporation
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