Why Google are so good at ‘managing’ their staff
Google did their own manager research and found that the most important attribute of a good manager was that they had to be a good coach and empower their team. So how can you be a coach AND a manager?
A manager – controls staff and is focused on the results of right now. They are successful in their ability to delegate responsibilities and always get the job done. They believe their employee’s potential is demonstrated in their abilities today. They care about the success of the business the most because they know it is the business who pays their staff’s wages.
A people coach – guides staff and is focused on the results for the future. They know their employee’s potential is important for results today, but they also understand that only a small part of their potential has been unlocked and with the further guidance they can only get better and better. They care about the success of their employees the most because they know it is their hard work which makes the company succeed and continue to make a profit.
- Listen and let your staff provide the answer – A good coach will let their staff answer their own questions. When you let them solve their own problems they develop rather than become dependent, which is how you create a successful team. The majority of time, staff only ask questions because they are insecure about their own intellect and they want to gauge your knowledge in comparison to their own. The more they learn to trust their own ideas the more confident and successful they will be.
- Be more personal – In order to be a coach you need to take away the scary boss facade, otherwise your staff will never allow you to coach them because they will be too afraid. You must get to know your employees very well so you can correctly understand their strengths and weaknesses. Someone who is intimidating and harsh is not a good coach.
- Empathise all of the time – Being a good coach means being able to understand why your staff do certain things and why they work the way that they work. It means you can understand other people’s points of view as well as your own. Having a good level of emotional intelligence will enable you to guide your employees in a way that empowers them and suits them best.
- Slow the pace – The easy option when managing is to do jobs yourself or tell staff how they should be done. However, when you slow down and allow them time to figure things out for themselves, you allow them to become more engaged and fulfilled in their role. This is because they are paving the way for themselves, they have a higher investment in their career because it is them who have paved the way rather than you doing it for them.
- Take yourself off of the pedestal – A good people developer doesn’t see themselves as better than or superior to their staff. They are level with everyone and see themselves as more of a facilitator of their staff’s success. Coaching is about recognising staff’s ability and getting them to be as good as they can be, rather than recognising their pitfalls and making it clear that you can do it better.
- Ask them more questions – If you ever see them handle a situation badly or do a task wrong, instead of immediately telling them what they did wrong, ask them a series of questions of why it was wrong and what they could have done better. This will allow them to think of alternative solutions to the problem and allow you to have a trusting relationship with them. They’ll feel more comfortable discussing their mistakes or flaws with you and this will help you coach them better.
- Don’t switch your ‘coach mode’ on and off – A manager who coaches does so permanently and doesn’t just turn it on when it suits them e.g. at the easiest of times, when they are not rushed or stressed. They realise that coaching should be a continuous priority in order to gain the best results.
- Stopping moaning at employees – A bad manager moans at employees about business problems and the need for them to ramp up their performance. This does nothing but makes employees resent you and make their experience a negative one. Instead work out what the root cause of the problem is and try to fix it. e.g. shoes are not coming down to the shop floor fast enough, instead of moaning at the stock room person to be faster. Go upstairs and observe why they are not coming down fast enough. It could be that other members of staff are asking them to do things whilst they are upstairs as well, or that the tickets are not coming through fast enough. Of course if it is because they are simply being slow then you need to address the issue and perhaps coach them out. Which is also an essential part of being a good coach.
- Coaching someone out of a job – As well as recognising success, it is also your job to recognise when someone just isn’t going to get any better. The best thing you can do for that employee is to coach them out. It can be embarrassing and humiliating for them if they are struggling or simply aren’t hitting targets time and time again. Simply talk to them and tell them the expectations which were set out when they started their job and how they are not meeting them. The majority of the time they will already know that they are not. Of course, this should be a last resort and the conversation you have after many conversations before, discussing their performance and trying to coach them to do better.