Project Oxygen (so called as Google sees people as the life blood of the organisation) was designed by them to measure the impact of good managers upon their employees and their performance. In early 2009 Google’s HR team embarked on the research using Google’s renowned data analysis skills.
The project set out to analyze the results from performance reviews, feedback surveys, nominations for top-manager awards and other available data. Then they correlated phrases, words, praise and complaints. The results were then prioritized by importance.
“Project Oxygen is our attempt to verify here at Google the age-old HR statement that people leave organizations because of their managers”. “We wanted to see whether there’s a huge variance in the quality of managers and if so, what kind of impact was it having on the company?” said Director of People Analytics & Compensation Prasad Setty.
Traditional views on why people leave their employer
The work conducted was based on testing the belief that people typically leave a company for one of three reasons.
- They don’t feel a connection to the mission of the company, or sense that their work matters
- They don’t really like or respect their co-workers
- They have a bad boss — This being the biggest variable
Setty and his team examined the results from Googlegeist, the company’s annual employee survey, as well as performance-management scores and other data on managers to identify good performers and poor ones.
The study found that a manager’s technical skills were far less valued by employees than people skills. It identified the value of consistency and authenticity of managers and from the research done an 8 Point Plan was created to help managers improve. The findings of the study were shared amongst individuals, managers and teams, allowing them to extract learning from its findings; and supporting them to grow into what was expected of them. From the study 8 required behaviours were identified.
In order of importance the 8 top behaviours of managers are:
- Be a good coach
- Empower your team and don’t micromanage
- Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
- Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
- Be a good communicator and listen to your team
- Help your employees with career development
- Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
- Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
In addition they identified 3 key manager pitfalls:
- Have trouble making a transition to the team
- Lack a consistent approach to performance management and career development
- Spend too little time managing and communicating
For many in the world of HR & Organizational Development Google’s research clearly affirms the value of the basics of people management. By identifying ‘Be a Good Coach’ as the first priority, Google employees confirm the strong need for managers to learn and apply coaching skills in their interactions with people.
4th August 2015