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Google is sharing its management tools with the world

Google is sharing its management tools with the world

Speaking at his alma mater in January, Sundar Pichai, Google’s low-profile CEO, revealed his key to effective management: “Let others succeed.”

Enacting Pichai’s advice is easier said than done. But Google is sharing some tools that might help. Its Re:Work blog is offering a series of instructive documents used by managers at Google. They cover everything from feedback and career development to setting agendas for one-on-ones, and codify the insights Google gleaned from spending years analyzing reviews and other observable data at the company to determine essential leadership traits.

Here’s an overview of what’s available. Each section header below has the link to the corresponding documentation from Google.

Manager feedback survey

Googlers evaluate their managers on a semi-annual basis with a 13-question survey. The first 11 measure whether employees agree or disagree with statements like “My manager shows consideration for me as a person.” The final two questions (“What would you recommend your manager keep doing?” and “What would you have your manager change?”) are open-ended.

At Google, these survey responses are reported confidentially, and managers receive a report of anonymized, aggregated feedback, plus verbatim answers to the two open-ended questions. “The feedback a manager gets through this survey is purely developmental,” Google says. “It isn’t directly considered in performance or compensation reviews, in the hope that Googlers will be honest and constructive with their feedback.”

Career conversations worksheet

Google’s management analysis reveals that above all, employees value knowing that their manager is invested in their personal success and career development. To help managers effectively discuss development with their direct reports, Google uses the GROW model—which organizes the conversation into four recommended sections:

  • Goal: What do you want? Establish what the team member really wants to achieve with their career.
  • Reality: What’s happening now? Establish the team member’s understanding of their current role and skills.
  • Options: What could you do? Generate multiple options for closing the gap from goal to reality.
  • Will: What will you do? Identify achievable steps to move from reality to goal.

“One Simple Thing” worksheet

To encourage personal well-being and work-life balance, Google uses the popular goal-setting practice “One Simple Thing.” The goal should be specific enough to measure its impact on one’s well-being. “Managers can encourage team members to explain how pursuing this one thing won’t negatively affect their work,” Google explains. “That goal then becomes part of a team member’s set of goals that managers should hold them accountable for, along with whatever work-related goals they already have.”

Some examples of “One Simple Thing” goals include “I will take a one hour break three times a week to work out,” and “I will not read emails on the weekends.”

1:1 Meeting agenda template

At Google, the highest-rated managers hold frequent one-on-one meetings with their direct reports. However, as most leaders know, individual check-ins can often feel rushed and disorganized. To squeeze the most out of each one-on-one (which Google managers are advised to hold every week or two) Googlers set up a shared meeting agenda ahead of time—which both the manager and the report should contribute to.

Some agenda items Google suggests include:

  • Check-in and catch-up questions: “What can I help you with?” and “What have you been up to?”
  • Roadblocks or issues
  • Goal updates
  • Administrative topics (e.g., upcoming vacations, expense reports)
  • Next steps to confirm actions and agreements
  • Career development and coaching

New manager training course materials

As Google explains, “These course materials were originally designed for Google managers to help them transition from individual contributor roles to manager roles.” As anyone who has done this can attest, conducting the transition gracefully requires a bit of perspective shifting, and more than a little awareness building.

The course materials include a facilitator guide (to help whoever is training the new managers), a new manager student workbook (including interactive exercises), and the presentation slides that Google trainers use internally.

Read the full version from the author’s website.

9 Signs Your Workplace Is Emotionally Unintelligent (and What to Do About It)

9 Signs Your Workplace Is Emotionally Unintelligent (and What to Do About It)


CREDIT: Getty Images Photo by: Getty Images

Here’s a troubling trend. Other than fidget spinners, I mean.

Research among people recently leaving corporate life indicates a surprising thread. Guess what strength is most common among the newly departed?

High EQ (emotional intelligence).

Now, compare that to the increasing commonality of a low-EQ workplace and you have a “no duh” explanation for the exodus.

Are you operating in a low-EQ workplace that gives high EQers fits, and the sense that they don’t belong?

Here’s how to tell. Look for these nine signs of “emotional unintelligence” and wise the workplace up by employing the advice that follows.

1. Business goals are uninspiring at best.

Do you genuinely care if your business unit hits a 25 percent market share? Unless you’ve got a major equity position, I’m guessing no.

What people do care about are goals that translate to something that serves a higher purpose, a goal with personal meaning. Something they can relate to. Who is that 25 percent and how are you serving them and making their lives better?

That’s your goal.

Yes, numbers matter. Until they’re numbing.

2. The people affected by decisions are rarely enrolled.

Being cc’d rather than enrolled on a decision is disempowering and deflating. Frankly, leaders who do this show low IQ and EQ.

Is it so difficult to understand that people must weigh in before they can buy in? Has the art and science of showing people they’re valued and valuable actually become rocket science? Is it completely missed that decision-making processes can unchain instead of drain energy?

Enroll early and often.

3. Leaders conduct inquisitions, not inquiries.

Some of the most emotionally bereft behavior leaders can engage in happens at leadership team meetings. Employees come in for a checkpoint on projects and instead of helpful questioning and curiosity, they’re met with a “you must get past us” mentality. Leaders might even lash out more than they listen.

No, no, no.

Role model interactions with teams that leave them looking forward to leadership meetings rather than licking their wounds thereafter.

4. It’s all head, no heart.

Environments rich in analysis, planning, and preparation still need one other critical element.

A pulse.

High EQers need to know that a passion for people, in addition to rote progress, is a priority.

Put empathy, compassion, and the needs of employees on the agenda along with that topic on inventory levels.

5. Micro-management is used like a security blanket.

Raise your hand if you like to be micro-managed.

Micro-management is a sign of many things, the most troubling of which is insecurity. It demonstrates zero trust, indicates selfishness, and smacks of low self-confidence.

Show your leadership peers what astonishing empowerment looks like. Macro-managing exhilarates.

6. Problem employees go unaddressed.

One word for you: fester. That’s what unaddressed problem children will do. Such a situation saps the energy of great employees, shows a stunning lack of concern, and is a knife in the heart of an organization. A lack of courage in addressing the negative ions is the ultimate in callousness.

Fix. It…

Read the full version from the author’s website.

How to Tell If You’re a Great Manager

How to Tell If You’re a Great Manager

I’ve been reading Fred Kofman’s book, Conscious Business. Written in 2006, the book summarizes Kofman’s experiences as a management consultant to some of the great leaders in technology and other industries. In the book, Kofman lists 12 questions Gallup used to identify great managers in one of the largest management surveys conducted.

As I read this list of 12 questions, I started answering them for each of the different roles I’ve had. When I worked for great managers and answered the questions, I found I answered yes to almost all of them. The converse is also true.

This list incorporates questions about communication clarity, mission, shared values, respect, community and teamwork.

  1. Do I know what is expected of me at work?
  2. Do I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right?
  3. At work, do I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day?
  4. In the last seven days, have I received recognition or praise for doing good work?
  5. Does my supervisor, or someone at work, seem to care about me as a person?
  6. Is there someone at work who encourages my development?
  7. At work, do my opinions seem to count?
  8. Does the mission/purpose of my company make me feel my job is important?
  9. Are my co-workers committed to doing high-quality work?
  10. Do I have a best friend at work?
  11. In the last six months, has someone at work talked to me about my progress?
  12. This last year, have I had opportunities at work to learn and grow?

Read the full version from the author’s website.

A Startup Conversation: What Happens When Your Team Doubles in 4 Months

A Startup Conversation: What Happens When Your Team Doubles in 4 Months

I love this post from the Buffer co-founders Joel and Leo, (open.buffer.com), I have personally experienced consistent doubling in team sizes in nearly every tech startup i have either founded or guided and its a dynamic that if managed well will ensure your success, failure is messy and painful. So read on, regards Bradley Birchall …

The Buffer team is more than 65 people right now, which means our startup has more than doubled in size this year. It’s been an incredibly exciting adventure!

The Buffer team is more than 65 people right now, which means our startup has more than doubled in size this year.

It’s been an incredibly exciting adventure!

There are a lot of big factors for this growth, as well as many changes for all of us that have gone along with it.

We recently sat down for a video chat with Buffer: Open’s Content Crafter, Courtney, to talk about why and how we’ve grown so much this year. She asked us some great and tough questions about things like the challenges of growth and scaling our culture, how big Buffer could possibly become and lots more. We wanted to share it all with you here!

In this post we’d love to highlight just a few of the things we talked about in the video and invite you to share any thoughts this brings up for you!

Why is Buffer growing so fast right now?

Our experiment with self management was an exciting time, but during it we began to notice that we hadn’t grown very much.

When we noticed that from one retreat to the next we had almost the same amount of people, that didn’t feel too ideal.

We realized that there’s so much more that we want to do; so much opportunity. We weren’t moving as fast as we wanted to, and that was a big trigger point.

Luckily, we were also growing in revenue, and had started to hit profitability.

We decided to reinvest that, thinking that ideally we should keep growing and make use of that money to provide a better product and better customer service.

As a result, we have a different situation leading up to our upcoming retreat in Hawaii in January, where we’ll almost have doubled from one retreat to the next!

How has it changed the way we work?

As we began to ramp up and grow again, we realized we had stretched our existing structure as far as we could.

We’ve never had a lot of hierarchy, especially during our self-management period. We were a small enough group that we organized naturally, for the most part, without breaking into too many specialized teams.

So when we hit 10-15 people in the product and engineering group, that was 15 people on one team. That becomes really inefficient—people are jumping from one thing to another.

The product has grown so much at 4-5 years in, and it has a much wider span. It’s hard to be able to effectively jump into all its different areas.

And ideally, you don’t want to have to split your brain between them. For people to be able to work and focus, we’ve learned that areas needs to be separate so someone can give one all their attention.

We realized that we needed to split into multiple teams—ideally, we’d have 5 people per team. So at a team size of 15 in product and engineering, that’s 3 teams.

We knew we needed more than that to handle each element of Buffer, maybe 7 or 8 teams total.

So that meant we would need to be a product and engineering team of 35 or 40! That’s what triggered this wave of growth.

The system we have now, we think, works. And yet we’re growing so fast that as soon as we hit the point where things works, we might grow to the next point and it’ll all break again.

That’s just going to be how it works now. It’s a challenge, but it’s also exciting.

How big could Buffer become?

In terms of vision, our feeling is that there’s a lot of opportunity.

We want to continue helping small businesses to have the voice they deserve to have and get more reach through social media. There are a lot of different spaces we could move into, and much more we could do to help customers with social media publishing.

The culture we’ve established and movements we’ve ended up being part of, like transparency and growing as a distributed team— we believe this is a purpose of Buffer, too, to spread these movements.

The more we can grow, the more we can show that this kind of work can scale. That’s part of the motivation for going further.

Nothing grows forever, and that’s not a good aim to have. But right now for Buffer, we think we’re far from our limit. Our growth may not always be this fast, but we will be on a pretty fast trajectory from now on.

We’ve now moved to this new structure, so we’re building up to that. Once we hit it, we probably won’t need to double every few months again—until we need a whole new structure, which could happen every few years.

How does our culture evolve as we grow?

We’ve recently started to send out periodic surveys to get a feel for how teammates are feeling at buffer, and recently the rate of growth has got quite a few people worried about the culture changing.

That’s on people’s minds, and it’s really important to talk about and think about and make changes around.

Culture evolves. Every new person we add evolves the culture—that’s why diversity is so important, because we want the culture to evolve in a diverse way.

At the same time, there is this underlying idea that you’ll have culture whether you like it or not—it’s down to whether you decide to shape it.

That’s something we’ve always believed in, and why we put our values into words when we were just 10 people. We believe we should be very deliberate about what kind of company we want to build and how we want it to feel.

The two of us used to talk about culture together. On Fridays, we would go to a coffeeshop and work on culture, make changes. Things like pair calls, the salary formula, all these things we introduced through that weekly meeting.

Read the full version from the author’s website.

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