Workforce Wonk

By Alyah Khan

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Google's recipe for superior managers

How do you build a better manager?

That’s the question Google set out to answer when it began a program named Project Oxygen back in 2009.

As part of the effort, statisticians at the company gathered data from various performance reviews, feedback and other reports to devise a list of eight behavior-related directives for good managers, according to the New York Times.

Google’s rules included:

  • Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.
  • Help your employees with career development.
  • Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.

Technical expertise was ranked last on the list, which may or may not come as a surprise. Similar to the private sector, experts have said federal employees place more importance on managers being accessible and providing constructive feedback than on their knowing the technical details of the work..

What’s going at Google is noteworthy in light of the federal government’s recent commitment to reform performance management, as expressed by Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry.

Most agree that the success of a new federal performance management system depends entirely on supervisors. The same was true at Google, where the company found that managers had a “much greater impact on employees’ performance and how they felt about their job than any other factor,” the New York Times reported.

It might make sense for the government to take note of Google’s data-driven approach, and the company’s use of management coaches while it looks to improve its own method for evaluating employee performance.

What do you think about Google’s latest HR project? What can the federal government learn from the private sector when it comes to performance management?

Posted by Alyah Khan on Mar 21, 2011 at 12:20 PM


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