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Motivation March 27, 2018

Google Reveals 10 Ways to Become a Great Manager


In our recent blog post, we spoke about how bad management affects employee engagement and described three types of manager that are damaging to a business. 

Whilst it’s important to help managers see where they may be going wrong – we also believe it’s even more important to talk about how a manager can do right!

Google’s Project Oxygen is a continuous piece of research that was started in 2008 with the aim of finding out what makes a great manager at Google. 

Because we believe these ideal management characteristics can be followed by companies other than Google, we've rounded them up and talked through some ways you can apply their findings to your leadership style.

Want to transition from a good manager to a great one? Just keep reading. 

1. Be a good coach

Employees want to feel challenged and guided by their manager. You could do this by helping your employee develop their leadership skills, or by finding out more about their goals and ambitions in the position and helping them to reach them. 

Don’t be fooled into thinking your highest performing employees don’t want to be coached; sometimes these employees are the ones who need it the most

2. Empower your team and do not micromanage

We have previously discussed the negative implications of being a micromanager in our bad management blog post. The Project Oxygenresearch also shows that micromanagement is seriously damaging to employees.

If you want to be a truly great manager, you need to completely avoid any micro-managing characteristics and tendencies you may have as employees despise it.

3. Create an inclusive team environment

Google found it was important for employees to feel included and valued. 

Project Oxygen also found that psychological safety was important for employees. They found this particularly important in the context of risk-taking, which employees should feel comfortable with and confident enough to make bold decisions. 

Inclusivity was also an important factor at Google. Having a diverse team is good, but making sure all feel included is what makes a great manager. 

4. Be productive and results-oriented

A good manager is one that is focused on results over everything, as they know this is what will drive business progress and achieve results. 

A great manager one understands they are a role model for their team and wants to set an outstanding example for them. If a manager has a lazy attitude, then this is going to rub off on employees and they aren’t going to perform to a high standard. 

5. Be a good communicator

In our previous blog posts, we have stressed the importance of managers holding regular 1 to 1 meetings with their employees. This creates a positive culture between manager and employee and also allows managers to get feedback from employees. 

A good manager is one that knows how to communicate effectively with their team, but a great manager knows that listening is even more important.  


6. Support career development and discuss performance

In our previous post on re-engaging employees, we spoke about the importance of allowing employees to develop in their position, either through further training or increased responsibility. 

It is also important that employees are aware of how they’re performing. If they’re underperforming then it’s important you let them know, and work together to try and find a solution to how they could improve. 

If employees are overperforming then recognising this is important too, either by rewarding or praising.    

7. Have a clear vision/strategy for your team

If a manager is unclear about which direction they are going in, then this will reflect in team performance. 

Managers should communicate a clear vision or strategy to their team and be clear about what their expectations are. 

One simple but effective way to do this is by using a dashboard that displays team KPIs. This allows every member of the team to stay on track and know what management's expectations are for them. 

8. Have key technical skills

A good manager is one that has expertise in his field, but a great manager is one that understands that his expertise needs to develop too as things can change quickly. 

A great manager may attend conferences, courses and webinars/seminars in order to always stay aware of trends in the industry so he can best advise and lead his team. 

9. Collaborate across departments

Project Oxygen found that a great manager at is one that can participate in cross-department discussions and tasks seamlessly and effectively. Whilst their research was of course based on Google, this principle can be applied to all businesses, regardless of size.

Being able to work well with other teams is a key characteristic of a great manager as it effects the performance of their team. 

Communication between departments is vital in a large business, especially between related departments like sales and customer success or finance and marketing.

10. Be a strong decision-maker

A good manager is one that isn’t afraid to make big decisions. 

A great manager is not only a manager that is confident to make big decisions but is also to explain why they made that decision. A great manager also consults employees before taking decisions that directly impact them; this ties into our comment earlier about the importance of listening to employees. 



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