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It’s the managers, stupid

Managers are key to the successful organization
Managers are key to the successful organization
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Google has implemented innovative organizational structures in its attempt to develop and maintain the most efficient system possible. At one point, it even eliminated managers for its engineering teams, in an attempt to free them up to develop ideas more rapidly. Even though that plan was shelved, what has emerged is a clearer definition of the roles and function of managers within the modern organization.

David Garvin describes these efforts in a December, 2013 Harvard Business Review article titled: How Google Sold Its Engineers on Management. In the article, Garvin states that “…data driven cultures,… respond well to data driven change.”

At Google, it quickly became apparent that the entire success of the modern organization relies on the strength of its managers. Attracting and retaining top level talent is key to the success of the modern innovative and growth oriented organization.

Data studies showed that “…retention was related more strongly to manager quality than to seniority, performance, tenure or promotions”. There is a“…tight connection between managers’ quality and workers’ happiness”.
Relevant key behaviors of first and second level managers include “developing and motivating direct reports as well as communicating strategy and eliminating roadblocks.”

Through surveys and performance reviews, Google identified the “eight key behaviors” of its most effective managers. Notice that five of the eight key behaviors involve direct interactions with the workers.

What Google's Best Managers Do:
1 Is a good coach
2. Empowers the team and does not micro-manage
3. Expresses interest in and concern for team members’ success and personal well-being
4. Is productive and results oriented
5. Is a good communicator-listens and shares information
6. Helps with career development
7. Has a clear vision and strategy for the team
8. Has key technical skills that help him or her advise the team

Google's work clarifies and emphasizes the importance of the front-line supervisor in today’s modern organization. Chris Loux, Google’s Head of Global Enterprise Development summarizes this importance when he stated that “people don’t quit companies, they quit managers”.