It’s not every day you learn of a really smart company setting out to prove that managers don’t matter. But that’s exactly what Google did with Project Oxygen.
The hypothesis was that the quality of a manager doesn’t matter and that managers are at best a necessary evil, and at worst a useless layer of bureaucracy. The early work of Project Oxygen, in 2002, included a radical experiment—a move to a flat organization without any managers.
The experiment was a disaster, Inc reports, lasting only a few months as the search giant found employees were left without direction and guidance on their most basic questions and needs.
Undaunted, Google pivoted to extensively study the opposite question: What are the common behaviors of their very best managers? It came up with a list of eight attributes, verified quantitatively and qualitatively in multiple ways. It then rolled out those findings in 2010 to its organization to ingest and use.
• Be a good coach. You either care about your employees or you don’t. If you care, then you’ll invest time and energy to help your employees become better versions of themselves. The other half is knowing you’re a facilitator, not a fixer. Ask good questions, don’t just give the answers.
• Empower teams and don’t micromanage. Everyone wins when you learn to let go.
• Create an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.
• Be productive and results-oriented. Take productivity of your employees seriously and give them the tools to be productive, keeping the number of processes to a minimum.
• Be a good communicator—listen and share information. The biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.
Read the full story to see the rest of the list.