Managing the Distributed Workforce

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Project Oxygen is the code name for research that Google engaged in for 10 years to figure out what behaviors make for the perfect manager. The goal was to train its leaders in these traits. The research has led to improvements in employee turnover, satisfaction and performance. 

One key finding was that technical skill mattered less than people might think; it’s the emotional-intelligence (EIQ) skills  – the ability to understand and control emotions, both their own and those of others, that mattered more.

Since workers increasingly work from home, office and/or pods, understanding these behaviors may help you manage them better in the current and post-pandemic world.  These are 10 behaviors that effective managers have:

  1. Be a good coach. Guiding teams and sharing insights to enable members to gain experience and grow
  2. Empower teams and not micromanage.  Especially relevant when you can’t manage by wandering around, giving people the freedom to experiment and learn from experience is key.
  3. Create an inclusive team environment, showing concern for well-being and success. This mirrored other studies that the greatest key to team performance was a “psychologically safe” environment.
  4. Be productive and result-oriented. Serve as a role model. 
  5. Be a good communicator.  Knowledge is power. Listen and share information so people know the “why: behind the “what”. 
  6. Support career development and provide constructive feedback. Help people grow professionally. 
  7. Have a clear vision/strategy for the team. Never lose sight of the goal, and your individual role in executing the total team strategy.
  8. Have the technical skills to help advise the team. Understand your people’s jobs, including responsibilities, tasks and challenges.  
  9. Collaborate effectively. See the big picture, not just the “silo responsibilities” and encourage everyone to work for the good of the company
  10. Be a strong decision-maker. Be decisive; learn the facts, consider people’s perspectives and the optional paths to take and then commit to a specific decision.

Google learned that when managers adopted these traits, this generated trust and inspired people to be the best versions of themselves. And that generates top-notch self-management.

Now, look at your management team: how do they rate on these behaviors? What can you do to help them improve – and propel your company to greater performance and satisfaction!