Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Google's Eight-Point Rule for What It Takes to Be the Perfect Boss

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Google's Eight-Point Rule for What It Takes to Be the Perfect Boss

Article excerpt

Byline: Philip Delves Broughton

GOOGLE was once considered the greatest place in the world to work. There was free food, massages, volleyball courts, and, if you were an engineer, you got one day in every five to just "be creative". Then it grew and became much like any other vast company employing tens of thousands of people, run by clipboard bullies and slowed down by meeting creep.

But, being Google, it decided to attack the problem of poor management by digging into its own data. All those performance appraisals, feedback surveys and hiring records were sitting in digital files, waiting for someone to make sense of them. So Google ran all this content through its systems and ranked the traits of a good manager. This project to refresh Google's stale managerial blood was named Oxygen.

Laszlo Bock, Google's head of human resources, told The New York Times last week that "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. It turns out that that's absolutely the least important thing. It's important, but pales in comparison. Much more important is just making that connection and being accessible."

Project Oxygen began because the firm found that the single biggest variable among employees' reasons for leaving Google was the quality of their managers. Poor managers affected employee performance and job satisfaction. Good managers had better performing, happier, more stable teams. But what made for a good manager? Google's statisticians searched for patterns. Some information they could turn into code and interpret using their software; some interviews they had to read to get the flavour of what employees thought of their managers.

This information has since been used in coaching for managers and in hiring. The purpose is to minimise the effect of common biases. Managers, for example, are prone to hiring people like themselves. Employees frequently suffer on reviews if they have had one bad, recent experience, despite weeks of excellent work. …

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