8 Characteristics of a Good Manager

Google, being Google, is big on data and analytics. And they even apply that to people.  Usefully for us as it gives us all useful insights.  Their people analytics team (yes you read that right – they have a people analytics team) have identified characteristics that the company’s most effective managers demonstrate.

8 characteristics of a good manager:

  1. They are a good coach
    • Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing negative and positive
    • Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to the employee’s strengths
  2. They empower the team and do not micromanage
    • Balance giving freedom to your employees while still being available for advice
    • Make “stretch” assignments to help them tackle big problems
  3. They express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being 
    • Express interest in employees’ success and well-being
    • Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work
    • Make new folks feel welcome, help ease the transition
  4. They are productive and results-oriented themselves
    • Focus on what you want the team to achieve and how employees can help achieve it
    • Help the team prioritise work, and make decisions to remove roadblocks
  5. They are a good communicator — they listen and they share information
    • Communication is two-way: Both listen and share
    • Hold all-hands meetings and be specific about the team’s goals
    • Encourage open dialogue and listen to the questions and concerns of your employees
  6. They help develop careers
  7. They have a clear vision and strategy for the team 
    • Even amid turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy
    • Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision, goals, and progress
  8. They have technical skills that help them advise the team
    • Roll up sleeves and work side-by-side with the team, when needed
    • Understand the specific challenges of the work

The team also identified three areas where less effective managers and leaders struggle:

  1. They find it difficult to make the transition to team leader
    • Fantastic individual performers are often promoted to manager without the necessary skills to lead
    • People hired from outside often don’t understand the specific ways of the company
  2. They lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development
    • Don’t help employees understand what company wants
    • Don’t coach employees on how they can develop and stretch
    • Not proactive: Wait for the employees to come to them
  3. They spend too little time on managing and communicating

Articles about Project Oxygen are in the Harvard Business Review here and in the New York Times here.

Written by Bob Bradley, founder of MD2MD.