Start with a Coach: 8 Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers


“The best advice I ever got: Find a coach!”
~Eric Schmidt on becoming CEO of Google.

Google’s “people operations” team (Human Resources) developed a manifesto entitled Eight Habits Of Highly Effective Google Managers.  Google conducted research that was published called Project Oxygen (a comprehensive program applying analytics approach in addressing human resources needs that measures key management behaviors and cultivates them through communication and training—and Google had shown statistically significant improvements in multiple areas of managerial effectiveness and performance.)

The New York Times, edited the Google manifesto in a quest to build a better boss and wrote more about it here.

The “8 good habits” are listed in order of priority, followed by three pitfalls.


1. Be 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. Empower your team and don’t micro-manage

* Balance giving freedom to your employees while still being available for advice
* Make “stretch” assignments to help them tackle big problems

3.  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.  Be productive and results-oriented

* Focus on what you want the team to achieve and how employees can help achieve it
* Help the team prioritize work, and make decisions to remove roadblocks

5.  Be a good communicator and listen to your team

* 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.  Help your employees with career development

7.  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.  Have key technical skills, so you can help advise the team

* Roll up sleeves and work side-by-side with team, when needed
* Understand the specific challenges of the work


1.  Have trouble making 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.  Lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development

* Doesn’t help employees understand what company wants
* Doesn’t coach employees on how they can develop and stretch
* Not proactive: Waits for the employees to come to them

3.  Spend too little time on managing and communicating

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