Google on Management

I’m always interested to read how Google implements things, both technical and non-technical. You can just be sure they don’t just do something because “that’s how have always been done” they rethink a lot of things, and like to back all their decisions with data.

Recently I found an HBR article back from 2013 about how Google decided on having management and how to shape it:

A few years into the company’s life, founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin actually wondered whether Google needed any managers at all. In 2002 they experimented with a completely flat organization, eliminating engineering managers in an effort to break down barriers to rapid idea development and to replicate the collegial environment they’d enjoyed in graduate school. That experiment lasted only a few months: They relented when too many people went directly to Page with questions about expense reports, interpersonal conflicts, and other nitty-gritty issues. And as the company grew, the founders soon realized that managers contributed in many other, important ways — for instance, by communicating strategy, helping employees prioritize projects, facilitating collaboration, supporting career development, and ensuring that processes and systems aligned with company goals.

Here’s the most interesting (and applicable) part: According to Google, a good manager…

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers the team and does not micromanage
  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

The whole article is worth a read if you care about this sort of thing.