The Google manager

The Google manager

Google found ten common behaviors across high-scoring managers.

Since Google’s early days, developers and team members have longed to believe management is more destructive than beneficial for the technocratic corporation.

Guide: Identify what makes a great manager (Google)

In 2002, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, co-founders of the company, eliminated engineering managers and started experimenting in an attempt to replicate their collegial environment that steered them to success in the first place, however, this lasted only a few months, as too many people went directly to Page with questions about expense reports, interpersonal conflicts and other nitty-gritty issues that held labors back.

The company dug dipper into its people and studied manager quality based on two quantitative measures: manager performance ratings and manager feedback from Google’s annual employee survey. Data quickly revealed that teams with great managers were happier and more productive.

Common traits among managers: Google

Knowing that managers mattered didn’t explain what made managers great.

This got Google looking further into what common behaviors and traits could build the perfect manager, the one to manage Google.

Through their work blog, the data-driven tech giant detailed that the Google Manager:

  1. Is a good coach | Challenging and coaching your workers is one of the best ways to see them get their job done. Giving feedback and guidance is one of the most-common behaviors in a good manager.
  2. Empowers, does not only micro-manage | Trusting direct reports and advocating for the team, according to a 2013 Harvard Business Review article, is a great way to avoid micromanaging and guaranteeing an uplift among your workers.
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being | Striving to create an inclusive, fun and healthy workplace could possibly one of the best ways to be a thoughtful manager for your team, as productivity, less absenteeism and staff turnover, and improved commitment, morale, and performance are just some of the benefits your office can see in a short-term.
  4. Is result-orientated | Being a role-model is the best way to encourage workers; if your results are palpable as a manager, workers will find it easier to work for someone who is productive and successful. Leading by example is still one of the best ways to obtain results from others.
  5. Is a good communicator | Prioritizing listening and effective communication towards your community is vital for someone in a management position. Focused and curious listening serves as an emotional and personal investment in those who work for you.
  6. Supports career development and discusses performance | Performance reviews are critical for any business, although they may seem strict. Google, for example, adopted an innovative internal grading system known as Objectives and Key Results, or OKRs, where employees set a goal for themselves and outline a series of quantifiable results that will help them achieve that objective.
  7. Has a clear vision | A clear and shared vision is what pushes you everyday. Adeo Ressi, contributor at Forbes, stated: “All you have is your vision: it is why you start the company, and why you spend countless nights working on it when you could’ve been [insert fun activity with family/friends here]. (…) once you have established your company’s vision, that vision becomes greater than you.”
  8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team | Laszlo Bock, ex-SVP of People Operations at Google, told The New York Times in 2011: “In the Google context, we’d always believed that to be a manager, particularly on the engineering side, you need to be as deep or deeper a technical expert than the people who work for you”.
  9. Collaborates across Google | Knowing how to communicate with other departments and maintaining a good relation with other teams within the same organization is key for Google and any other company.
  10. Is a strong decision-maker | An authentic decision-maker knows not just how to tell his team what decision he’s just made, he’s also capable of saying why he’s made it. “The most important thing to do is to have quick decisions,” Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, “and you’ll make some mistakes, but you need decision-making (…) Even if it’s the wrong decision, a quick decision is better than almost every case.”

About the Author:

Pablo Hernandez
Community Manager and Senior Reporter for CEO Magazine. Write to Pablo at
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