At Premier Partnership, we make it our business to keep our finger on the pulse of how the world’s top companies approach effective organisational development so that we can share this insight with our public sector clients in the UK.

According to this article in Inc. magazine, back in 2002, Google embarked on a project to move towards a flat organisational structure which did away with what was thought to be the ‘necessary evil’ of managers. Their belief was that the quality of managers didn’t matter and that layers of management created useless bureaucracy that the company could flourish without.

Unsurprisingly, the experiment had many unforeseen side effects, leaving employees unsupported and impacting productivity and organisational performance. However, the negative outcome was turned into a positive by the innovative company which used the insight gained from the experiment to discover what makes the best managers in order to overcome the obstacles that a hierarchical structure had caused them in the past.

They identified eight attributes found in people who made high quality managers and looked at how they could teach these behaviours to those who didn’t perform as well to improve their management skills for greater organisational impact. In 2010, the findings were presented to the business and implemented across the organisation with “remarkable” results. Since then, further analysis has identified two more characteristics which have been added to the list and are used by Google as a set of expectations for its managers. They are:

  1. Be a good coach – this means caring about and investing time and energy in helping your people to develop themselves.
  2. Empower teams and don’t micromanage – learning to let go makes managers more influential and inspiring to their subordinates and significantly improves performance.
  3. Create an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being – creating a competitive but supportive ethos makes people genuinely want to do better for themselves and their teams.
  4. Be productive and results oriented – stripping out processes and giving people the tools to do their job more effectively is key to long term productivity.
  5. Be a good communicator – managers must listen and share information.
  6. Have a clear vision/strategy for the team – we all want to feel we have a purpose and are part of something bigger.
  7. Support career development and discuss performance – as a training provider, this is music to our ears. When L&D is at the heart of management, organisations thrive.
  8. Have the expertise to advise the team – again, skill development is key as is keeping ahead of the latest trends.
  9. Collaborate – as the article highlights, this is particularly important in a global and remote business world.
  10. Be a strong decision maker – decisiveness builds trust and motivation.

What do you think? How can managers become more than a ‘necessary evil’ and tap into the potential of your employees? We obviously believe that L&D is a big part of this and ensuring that managers are key facilitators in developing their teams is vital, especially for larger organisations.