Leadership lessons from Google: What makes a great manager and how to get useful employee feedback

As one of the big four global tech companies, Google is at the forefront of its industry. Google now employs over 100k people, which provides an opportunity to gather large data on leadership and development. Google’s research initiative known as Project Oxygen was started in 2008, but its evolution continues to provide valuable insights. Here we bring you their latest results on what makes the best manager and what questions you should ask your employees if you want to replicate Google’s employee survey.

Top Manager Behaviours

Over the years, there have been a few changes in which characteristics employees of Google value in their managers. This year Google actually tried to first prove the hypothesis that the quality of a manager does not matter and won’t impact a team’s performance. They were unable to prove this, therefore finding that a manager’s qualities do impact upon team performance. They then set about determining which qualities had the greatest positive impact. Here are the top 10 manager behaviours:

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

Compared to previous years, behaviours 3 and 6 have been updated, whilst behaviours 9 and 10 are completely new.

Key Manager Feedback Questions

Should you wish to replicate Google’s manager feedback survey within your own organisation, these are the 13 questions to ask. The first 11 have yes or no answers, whilst the last two are open-ended providing employees with the opportunity to give unconfined responses.

1) My manager gives me actionable feedback that helps me improve my performance
2) My manager does not “micromanage” (i.e., get involved in details that should be handled at other levels)
3) My manager shows consideration for me as a person
4) The actions of my manager show that he/she values the perspective I bring to the team, even if it is different from his/her own
5) My manager keeps the team focused on our priority results/deliverables
6) My manager regularly shares relevant information from his/her manager and senior leaders
7) My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about career development in the past six months
8) My manager communicates clear goals for our team
9) My manager has the technical expertise (e.g., coding in Tech, selling in Global Business, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me
10) I would recommend my manager to other Googlers
11) I am satisfied with my manager’s overall performance as a manager
12) What would you recommend your manager keep doing?
13) What would you have your manager change?

Do you conduct surveys within your organisation? What types of insights have you found? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.