Recently, I read with great interest a Forbes.com article about Google’s failed quest to prove that managers are evil. The article describes Google’s 2008 realization that most of their prized engineering team hated managers. Most Google team members said their managers didn’t understand the work of the engineers, that they held them down, and that they were “power-crazed bureaucrats.”
The first part of this article is not so surprising. After all, Google is one of those companies where leadership and innovation seem to be encouraged at all levels. But the remainder of the article takes me back to our popular report about The Basic Principles of Leadership.
In companies like Google, where much of the core employee base is less administratively inclined – perhaps from fields like engineering as in Google’s case, or from artistic fields in other companies – there seems a disconnect between management and the rest of the workforce.
Google set out to understand its own problem by conducting data-driven research, starting with the major assumption that they’d discover managers don’t matter. Their discoveries suggested quite the opposite. In fact, Google discovered that managers are critical, and that when effective, they can increase job satisfaction and retention.
Google found through its research that, to be effective, managers must engage in eight behaviors including:
- Being a good coach
- Empowering the team, without micromanagement
- Expressing concern for team members’ success and personal well-being
- Being productive and results-oriented
- Communicating effectively
- Helping with career development
- Having a vision
- Using technical skills to advise
Our own research on The Basic Principles of effective leadership gives further insight by placing focus on trust. We know that when leaders build a foundation of trust with other employees, they can avoid being seen as a necessary evil. Instead, through establishment of trust, leaders empower the workforce and are more likely to be recognized as critical to creating a positive and productive work environment.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida