Image of a collaborative meeting with the team.

Building a Better Boss

Kathy Mount News

You may have noticed that the Training and Education Center has begun placing more emphasis on developing leaders through courses that don’t always seem immediately related to leading and managing employees. Interactive classes in coaching, having difficult conversations and political savvy may seem like fluff to an employee trying to develop the technical know-how and hard-driving persona that will lead to promotion. But it’s exactly those people skills that make great leaders! A recent article excerpted from “Government Executive” talked about the 8 qualities that make a better boss as developed by Google. You may be surprised to find that technical skill is number 8 – far more important were coaching, paying attention to people and being a good communicator.

As you move through your career, consider these 8 simple rules for being a better manager.

1. Be a good coach

  • Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the position.
  • Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.

2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage

  • Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.

3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being

  • Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work.
  • Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition

4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented

  • Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.
  • Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.

5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team

  • Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information.
  • Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots.
  • Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.

6. Help your employees with career development

7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team

  • Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy.
  • Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.

8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team

  • Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed.
  • Understand the specific challenges of the work.

Google’s HR team began a project code-named Project Oxygen in 2009. Their mission was to build better bosses. After combing through performance reviews, feedback surveys and other data-rich metrics, they distilled the essence of what makes a good manager down to eight jaw-droppingly simple rules. Odds are you’ve heard all of these–but when was the last time you practiced them all in concert? 

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