Over the years, Google has become the gold standard in valuing your employees. Google’s company culture places a premium on employees’ happiness and it shows. The tech giant is always topping the list of the best places to work in the U.S. and 86 percent of their employees say they are satisfied with their job.

Clearly, Google is synonymous with happy employees.

Back in 2008, Google launched Project Oxygen. This internal team focused on researching great managers. For Google, this research started because much of the leadership believed that managers were not important to success. In the end, this research was the key to developing the best management in the industry while, increasing performance and employee retention.

manager in meeting

Initially, they found 8 key behaviors that made great managers, and caused better employee outcomes. Ten years later, in 2018, the study was revisited and revised to match the newly evolved company.  They added two new behaviors and slightly three others. Since then, these standards became the gold standard for creating a strong company culture:

  • A good coach 

A great manager is a good coach. This means they don’t just solve problems on the spot. They have a future focus to help their team grow and develop rather than just put out fires all day long.  This requires managers to trust their team.

  • Empowers the team and does not micromanage

Great managers know the power of autonomy. They give their team the ability to manage their own environment and meet their objectives on their own rather than stepping in and taking over. They show their employees appreciation by giving them the power to work.

  • Creates an inclusive team environment

When you have a manager that shows genuine concern for your success and well-being, it creates a safe and motivating environment. No one feels embarrassed to give a crazy idea or ask a question. Each member feels genuine employee appreciation. Team members reflect new ideas the same as the manager, so be the example to entertain all ideas and spitball them around.

  • Productive and results-oriented

They are willing to actually get to work right alongside their team and do the tough jobs. They don’t get bogged down with issues and instead, they focus on results. When your manager is willing to do the same work you’re doing, it does wonders for employee retention and employee appreciation.  If your team is behind on a deadline, or short-staffed, jump in and sacrifice your regular tasks to work alongside them. This can also benefit you to see the procedures and communication of team members on a new level.

  • Good communicator

A great manager is a good communicator. They aren’t the ones doing all the talking. Instead, they listen and are empathic. They are transparent and share information to grow their team.  They communicate regularly, and effectively.

  • Supports career development and discusses performance

It’s motivating to work with someone who supports you and your goals. Good managers show employee appreciation by sharing praise, and also point out when performance is lacking. Both of these contribute to employee retention because their manager is supporting their goals.

  • A clear vision/strategy for the team

It’s important to have a leader who knows where they are going and what it takes to get there. They have a strategy and a direction and are ready to implement their plan.  They think long-term and reinforce company values often.

  • Great Technical skills

A great manager has key technical skills to help advise the team. Most of the traits of a great manager are soft skills, but a truly great leader must also have the technical know-how. They must understand the job as well as their employees do.  If you haven’t had the training required for these skills, consider taking a few months and immerse yourself into the job to really understand what is required and is effective in your field.

  • Collaboration

This means they can work with other teams, people, and departments across the company. They show their team how to do this as well, so everyone works together in a more productive way.  They believe everyone has something to contribute and that the best team is a diverse team.

  • Strong decision maker 

They must be decisive. When the team is split or when a decision must be made, they consider each side carefully, but they make a decision and stand behind it.

The work at Google is inevitably demanding, and that empire needs an army of people to keep things running smoothly. However, the attention at Google is on the individual. Creating and supporting great managers allows each employee to succeed individually.

Implement Your Own Manager Feedback Survey 

Wondering how you’d rank as a manager at Google? Take the time to find out. Google gathers feedback from employees on a semi-annual basis. The survey is sent electronically and the answers are completely confidential. Managers receive a report of anonymized, aggregated feedback only. The survey itself is short and is published for others to use.  It’s roughly a dozen statements using a “agree” or “disagree scale. Each statement is based on one of the ten behaviors of successful managers at Google. The following questions are taken directly from Google at you can use them as is or tweak them to fit your company culture.

  1. I would recommend my manager to others.
  2. My manager assigns stretch opportunities to help me develop in my career.
  3. My manager communicates clear goals for our team.
  4. My manager gives me actionable feedback on a regular basis.
  5. My manager provides the autonomy I need to do my job (i.e., does not “micro-manage” by getting involved in details that should be handled at other levels).
  6. My manager consistently shows consideration for me as a person.
  7. My manager keeps the team focused on priorities, even when it’s difficult (e.g., declining or deprioritizing other projects).
  8. My manager regularly shares relevant information from their manager and senior leadership.
  9. My manager has had a meaningful discussion with me about my career development in the past six months.
  10. My manager has the technical expertise (e.g., technical judgment in Tech, selling in Sales, accounting in Finance) required to effectively manage me.
  11. The actions of my manager show they value the perspective I bring to the team, even if it is different from their own.
  12. My manager makes tough decisions effectively (e.g., decisions involving multiple teams, competing priorities).
  13. My manager effectively collaborates across boundaries (e.g., team, organizational).

On the questionnaire, there are also two open-ended questions:

  • What would you recommend your manager keep doing?
  • What would you have your manager change?

The process of uncovering the traits of a great manager has had surprising effects across the workplace. In a New York Times article, Laszlo Bock, former senior vice president of people operations at Google acknowledged that the company had historically hired managers based on technical expertise. “It turns out that that’s absolutely the least important thing,” Bock says. “It’s important but pales in comparison. Much more important is just making that connection and being accessible.”

Google’s quest to find a better boss can uncover the keys to help all of us to become the better boss that our employees, our company, and our future needs.