I was interested to read today (Evening Standard, 21 March 2011) that the HR team at Google have been data crunching to identify the characteristics of great managers.
An internal programme called Project Oxygen set out to identify the traits of engaging managers, with a view to raising the bar for the rest.
The project was launched after Google discovered that the single biggest variable in employees' reasons for leaving was the quality of their line managers. As the saying goes, people don't leave organisations, they leave their managers.
Through its analysis Google identified eight key leadership qualities:
1) On the job coaching - providing specific feedback and solutions and balancing the positives and negatives.
2) Allowing team members a degree of freedom and not micromanaging.
3) Showing an interest in an employee's wellbeing.
4) Being productive and results driven and helping the team achieve its goals.
5) Listening to people's concerns.
6) Helping team members develop their careers.
7) Having a clear vision and strategy.
8) Having the skills they need to be able to roll up their sleeves and help the team when it needs it.
Interestingly, that list isn't dissimilar to one I brainstormed earlier today with a group of Government communicators. So perhaps working at Google isn't that different after all?
The company reckons it has improved the performance of 75% of its poor performing managers by focusing coaching in these eight areas.