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Earlier this year, Google’s Project Oxygen attempted to prove that managers didn’t matter in the workplace- if anything, they only served to instil ‘a layer of bureaucracy’ within the office.
They planned to prove this through two methods; manager performance ratings, and manager feedback from Google’s annual employee survey. The experiment lasted only a few months before it became a disaster, as it became abundantly clear that this hypothesis was untrue. Google therefore realigned its goal to dig deeper into the dynamics of the workplace- what are the ten most common traits in the very best managers, and what do these traits mean for the wider team?

A good coach

To put it simply, managers either care about their employees and their development or they don’t. If they do invest in their teams and are willing to give them time and energy, it provides a solid foundation to the fundamentals of good coaching.
An important part of this is to not only give guidance, but provide clear and open-ended briefs that allow employees to use their own initiative to come up with solutions and ideas, thus allowing them to grow and develop.

Empowers the team and doesn’t micromanage

This one’s a given- absolutely no one enjoys being micromanaged. It’s easy to feel the need to take on complete responsibility for everyone’s work, but handing over specific jobs and allowing employees to breathe gives them the opportunity to work independently and handle their work load.
It’s essential to get the dynamics right here; employees still need to feel that they can come to you for support and guidance at any point. If you’re creating an open environment and conducting yourself in the most approachable way possible, employees should feel more confident and reassured in their duties.

Creates an inclusive team environment

An inclusive team is essential to create a happy, harmonious environment. Individuals need to feel as if they can speak up, are listened to and respected.
It’s also important to extend inclusivity through cross departments and co working spaces- this encourages open information channels, which ultimately promotes further creativity within the workplace.

Productive and results-orientated

It goes without saying that managers need to push forward to drive results for the business. However, great managers know that it’s all about making targets realistic, and providing employees with the tools to perform consistently.
If certain members of the team aren’t hitting their targets, look at the reasons as to why, and what you can do to help. Tailor-made employee action plans lead the way in improving performance and achieving those all-important KPIs.

A good communicator

 Strong communication skills are fundamental to bringing out the best in your team. Any manager worth their salt has to be able to communicate clearly, concisely, and translate information correctly. This ensures that your team can manage your expectations and understand exactly what it is they need to do.

Supports career development

You need to care as much about your team’s development as your own. Be open as possible when discussing performance, whether it be individual or as a team.
It can sometimes be difficult to deliver any negative feedback to colleagues, but it’s essential to their development. Staff will be able to learn from any mistakes, and understand how actions can be changed the next time around. Be constructive and proactive with your comments, and watch your team flourish.

Has a clear vision and strategy for the team

Forward thinking is key. Strive to create a culture that encourages ideas from your team– what is it that they think is unique about the business? What do they think the company vision is, and what can be done to improve? A shared team vision and strategy helps your employees manage their expectations, and signpost their development to a specific goal.

Possesses the necessary technical skills

You need to be able to do what your team already does for them to see your true value as a manager.
Experience, information and managerial expertise are crucial. You’ll need to understand any particular issues your team may run into, and have the know-how to overcome them. Consider taking a course or refer to some online resources if you’re looking to brush up on your technical knowledge.
Google wants managers to have a sound tech knowledge base (think coding etc.) that allows them to become more future proof. This might be slightly ambitious in reality, but it’s safe to say that a strong technical know-how and a forward-thinking attitude sets savvy managers apart from the rest.


Shared success always feels better. As well as boosting morale, collaboration encourages all members of the team to produce ideas and have a say in decisions.
You need to represent your department effectively, and work well with other managers and teams to drive consistent results.

A strong decision maker

Indecision can be the biggest factor in crippling business opportunity. Solid, thought-out decisions provide your team with confidence in their duties, which you’ll need to deliver for the sake of your team’s morale (and sanity). Not every decision you make will be perfect, but self-belief will provide peers with confidence in your abilities and authority.
Contrary to Google’s initial premise, the findings unveil that managers not only play a major role in adding value to the workplace, but are also crucial to providing employees with basic guidance and direction. Ultimately, the majority of the criteria is down to soft skills, and the ability to understand and develop staff proactively. While every workplace has its own set of dynamics, the goal remains the same- to lead with confidence, inspire and deliver results.
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