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Google Research Unveils the Top 10 Traits of Managers

Somewhat ironically Google just unveiled the top 10 traits of managers while trying to prove that manager’s don't matter. 

A Google research team were trying to prove the hypothesis that ‘managers don’t matter, that the quality of a manager didn’t impact a team’s performance’. The hypothesis, they claim, stems from an early belief held by some of Google’s leaders and engineers that managers are ‘at worst, a layer of bureaucracy’ and ‘at best, a necessary evil’. 

They planned to do this with two quantitative measures - manager performance ratings and manager feedback from the web giant’s annual employee survey. The results, however, proved that managers do matter - ‘teams with great managers were happier and more productive’. 

It was this ‘eureka’ moment that led them to dig deeper and ask employees about their managers, reviewing comments from employee surveys and performance evaluations, Google has pulled together the 10 common behaviours across its high-scoring managers. 

We’ve listed them below as well as some insights into what each trait means for managers and their teams: 

1. Is a good coach

As a manager at Thrive I’ve undertaken management training to truly understand what it means to be a good manager, and being a good manager and a good coach is two different things. 

Being a good coach, to me, means being able to let go of the reins and give clear but open briefs, before taking the position of a supporter, or cheerleader, from the sidelines. It means you don’t just give specific, to-the-point instructions, it means you allow your team to come up with their own solution and success. 

2. Empowers the team and does not micromanage

Nobody really likes to be micro-managed, even if you think you do. If you’ve worked your way up the ranks it’s easy to feel the need to take responsibility for everything, but by handing over specific jobs you can empower staff easily. 

We believe this means that you offer the right tools and support, whilst allowing your employee ample opportunity to work independently and take charge of tasks, including their success/failure. 

3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and wellbeing

Although it’s easy for a lot of organisations to adopt competitiveness as a tool for improving performance, it's often such cultures that create negativity and demoralise managers and their teams. We believe in creating an environment that allows managers and their teams to speak up and be listened to fairly. 

We also believe in cross-department communication allowing for a free-flow of information and hopefully improving creativity in our teams - vital for an organisation such as ours.

4. Is productive and results-oriented

We strive on creating results that add value - and we ensure that our teams see the importance in the end goal (results) too. 

Some days our we aren’t as productive as it wants to be - life gets in the way, the brief changes, the WiFi goes down… - but we create ways to resolve the issue. From taking time out to check individuals are happy and healthy, as well as asking how we can boost their performance is a surefire way of speeding up results, without creating bad feeling and without disappointing the client. 

5. Is a good communicator - listens and shares information

A crucial element of any manager worth their salt is their ability to communicate. Coming from a journalism background, I, personally, am a big believer in ensuring communication is clear and consistent. It’s vital that both parties, particularly managers, check that information has been communicated effectively, translated correctly and understand completely what is expected. 

If you doubt whether the other party has understood what you’re asking, rather than asking, ‘Does that make sense?’, consider:

  • How do you see this playing out?
  • How do you plan on getting started?
  • How will we know everything has been completed?
  • How do you intend to complete this project?

Open-ended, left-field questions get your team engaged, it challenges them to be creative and prove their ability. 

6. Supports career development and discusses performance

You need to care about the people beneath you and be open to discussing the good and bad when it comes to both individual, and wider team, performance. If you can’t do either of these it will become a barrier in your efforts to boost success and morale. 

By carving ways for your employees to improve their own personal growth and development you give them a sense of pride which is reflected back into the work they do for you. 

7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team

Strive to create a culture that encourages ideas from the team about how the company’s vision can improve things for all, not just the business.

Share your ideas for the department and company vision and strategy, but encourage reciprocation - how do your team think things can be improved upon?

8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team

You need to be able to do what your team is doing to ensure they see value in you as a manager. 

If you’re a sales manager with very little sales experience, they won’t appreciate you, it’s simple. 

You need to have the technical know-how as well as managerial expertise to prove you’ve ‘been there, done that’, that you’re ‘one of them’. If you feel your industry expertise is waning as the years go by, consider taking a course or taking time out to read the latest trends. 

If your organisation is forward-thinking, consider asking a group of employees to show you ‘how it’s done’ - to create a great confidence boost and improve cross-communication.

9. Collaborates across the company

You need to represent your department and ensure that you’re sharing success, ideas and performance across the organisation, as well as working with other managers and teams to better results. 

Your team doesn’t want to feel underrepresented or unrecognised in their efforts, so ensure that you speak up on their behalf and find ways to share ideas and results that can benefit them and the wider organisation.

10. Is a strong decision maker

Indecisiveness is a trait that I’m personally guilty of. Ask me what I want for lunch, or what I thought of last night's Love Island or would I recommend a particular hotel and you'll need to wait 2 hours for an answer - yeah, the moment has been and gone.

However, it’s important that in your professional capacity you can make solid, guided answers for the sake of your team’s sanity and morale. Ensure they have clear direction from a manager that can portray confidence and clarity in their decision.