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The Water Cooler

A blog of fresh ideas and findings from organizational leaders and researchers on how they’re making work better, shared regularly.

Listen to this podcast on how Google develops great managers

Filed under: Managers
Listen to this podcast on how Google develops great managers
Managers have a big influence on the culture and happiness of the workplace. Hear from Google’s manager development team on how they select, train, and support managers.

With over 70,000 employees and thousands of managers, including many first-time managers, Google invests in training and supporting its managers. Sarah Calderon from Google’s manager development team recently spoke with the Google Partners team about how Google selects, trains, and develops its managers. Listen to the podcast here or on Google Play, iTunes, or Stitcher.

Calderon shared five lessons she’s learned about designing manager training programs:

  1. High-performing employees don’t necessarily make good managers. Not everyone is fit to be a manager, even if they’re a great individual contributor. To find great managers, look at how they work with others and how they get things done. Do they adjust their style to work with others? Do they clarify roles and responsibilities for others? Can they provide feedback in a meaningful way?
  2. The best time to train new managers is a few months into the job. Don’t wait too long — too much time may allow bad habits to form — but wait long enough so they actually start to understand what the job is. At Google, it’s usually three months.
  3. Don’t overwhelm new managers. Think about what they need to know in their first six months and give them just enough so that they can remember what they learned and go back and practice and build on it later.
  4. Training isn’t the only way to support your managers. Managers learn a lot from other managers. Encourage them to talk to each other to solve their challenges. Invest in the systems and processes, such as tools for collecting feedback, that support your managers.
  5. Give managers the feedback they need to get better. Once a year, Googlers fill out a survey on their manager’s performance to provide feedback. Identify what makes a great manager in your organization and give your managers developmental feedback to help them grow.

Each episode of this podcast series features an interview with a different expert who share their insights on business topics such as instilling a culture of innovation and navigating startup life.