A Breath of Fresh Air | Company Culture | Six and a Half Consulting
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A breath of fresh air

A breath of fresh air

People typically leave a company for one of three reasons (or a combination of them).

The first is a disconnect between the company’s purpose and their personal contribution.  The second is inter-personal conflict with their co-workers.  And the third, and biggest reason,  is being stuck with a bad boss. 

In 2009, Google hired a group of statisticians to devise something far greater than building a better algorithm or cooler app. 

Their mission was to design better bosses.

And as only a data-mining powerhouse like Google can do, it began analyzing manager reviews, feedback surveys, performance appraisals, and a slew of other data points.  Collectively over 10,000 pieces of information were gathered over 100 variables that would give insight into the purpose of their quest (named Project Oxygen).

What Google found was no less than a Homer Simpson “Duh!” forehead slapping moment. 

Google’s Project Oxygen found that the best managers :

1. are good coaches

2. empower their teams and do not micromanage

3. express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being

4. are productive and results-oriented

5. are good communicators—listen and share information

6. help with career development

7. have a clear vision and strategy for the team

8. have key technical skills that help them advise their teams

As a result of Project Oxygen, Google changed its feedback surveys — and implemented leadership training — to mirror the 8 best qualities of a manager.  The result? Today, Google consistently ranks amongst the best companies in the world to work for.

How this applies to your company

Like all great insights in life, it is the simplest ones that are often the most profound. And the hardest to implement. To create a great culture at your workplace, here are some tips:

Maketh not a manager on technical skills alone

Far too often, people become managers based on 1) longevity in a position and 2) technical ability.  What Project Oxygen reveals is that having technical abilities is just 1/8th of the managerial puzzle.  The other 7 have everything to do with interpersonal skills, emotional intelligence, and strategy/execution prowess.

Create a culture of feedback

Long gone are the days when it was acceptable to give feedback once a year in an employee’s annual review (if they get one at all).  What millennials have demanded from the ever changing workplace environment and indeed is supported by the best social research out there is that that feedback needs to be frequent and rooted in your company’s core values. 

When giving feedback to someone, follow these steps:

  1. Start with what you noticed (positive or negative).
  2. Explain how that behaviour effects the organization (positively or negatively) as they related to your organization’s core values.   
  3. Ask for the other person’s thoughts on your observations.
  4. Give feedback (positive or constructive)

 Get to Know Your Employees

John Gottman, a relationship psychologist from Seattle, WA has been studying the components of long-lasting, healthy relationships in married couples for over 50 years.  His findings offer a lot to the corporate world.

Namely, that the relationships that last the longest are those wherein both partners take an active role in acknowledging and advancing the other person’s interests.  In the workplace, this means taking the time to connect with each members of your team, and making a priority for you those things that are priorities for your them, personally and professionally.  Not surprisingly, this ranked third in eight in Google’s Project Oxygen’s findings. 

Casey Miller

Casey A. Miller, Co-Founder of Six and a Half Consulting, is on a mission: to use his big heart and gift of truth telling to help organizations, communities, and relationships thrive.

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