Convincing high-achieving, independent, autonomous engineers that managers are valuable assets that can improve the work environment is a daunting task, but Google set out to do just that with its multi-year Project Oxygen research initiative. Based on the belief that the best way to win the hearts and minds of knowledge workers was through scientific methodology, the initiative was heavily data-dependent and constructed to test assumptions.
Project Oxygen sought to identify the behaviors representative of good managers and provide actionable guidance for managers so they could improve going forward. According to the data, the most effective managers:
- Are good coaches.
- Empower their teams and do not micromanage.
- Express interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being.
- Are productive and results oriented.
- Communicate well, including listening and sharing information.
- Help with career development.
- Have clear visions and strategies.
- Possess key technical skills that enhance advisory capabilities.
The program has won great favor with both employees and managers, convinced skeptics, and yielded significant and measurable improvement results.