The 9 most important qualities of an effective manager

Daily Briefing

The 9 most important qualities of an effective manager

One major technology company is relying on upward feedback to identify training opportunities for managers, because they play such a key role in employee retention. 

For instance, research by EAB and the Advisory Board has found that staff who rate their manager as “excellent” are five times more engaged than staff who rate their manager as “poor.”

Because of findings like this, some companies have put significant resources into better understanding the traits of a successful manager. For example, Google has conducted an internal survey that found the manager sets the tone for how teams work together, but managers won’t improve if they don’t know what to work on. Google’s research is supported by many other studies that have shown feedback is a critical component of a successful team and organization.   

That’s why Google has created a 13-question manager survey form for each of their employees to complete twice a year. 

To retain top talent, managers matter

Google’s leaders collect anonymous responses and deliver them to managers in an aggregated format. The first nine questions of the survey ask respondents if their managers have certain qualities, which Google identified as important traits for managers to have. These nine questions suggest that excellent managers should:

  1. Give actionable feedback
  2. Avoid getting overly involved in details
  3. Show consideration for their employees as people
  4. Value the perspectives of their employees, even if they differ from the manager’s own
  5. Keep their teams focused on the most important results
  6. Regularly share relevant information from senior leaders
  7. Have regular, meaningful discussions about career development with each employee
  8. Communicate clear goals for their teams
  9. Have enough technical expertise to manage their employees in technical roles

The next two questions ask respondents if they would recommend their managers to other employees and whether they’re satisfied with their managers overall. The final two questions are open-ended and ask what the employee would like their manager to keep doing and change, respectively (Fessler, Quartz, 8/21; Google employee survey, last accessed 9/5).

3 traits of the best Google managers



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