Guide: Recognize and learn from great managers

Introduction

Even with data from the Project Oxygen study showing that managers matter, Google had to create a culture of appreciation for great management (since previously Google had questioned the importance of managers). Having identified eight behaviors of great managers at Google, the research team wanted to recognize the role models who demonstrated these behaviors and helped define what great management looks like.

Who better to identify those great managers than the Googlers they manage? In 2009, the annual Great Managers Award (GMA) program was created to recognize some of the best managers across the company. Any Googler can nominate any manager for the award.

Winners are recognized in front of the entire company and get to meet and work with senior leadership. They are also asked to help make managers better across Google and become an incredible resource for the manager community.

Guide: Recognize and learn from great managers

Recognize great managers

The annual Great Manager Award (GMA) process starts by asking all Googlers to nominate up to two managers, whether it’s a current or former manager, or even someone who has never been their direct manager. The nomination form is very simple and a reminder is included in the Manager Feedback Survey process.

Thousands of nominations come in from across the entire company. Committees of prior winners and leaders review these submissions to select about 20 winners from different departments, levels, and tenures. In addition to the number and quality of nominations per manager, committees look at other data like performance and tenure.

Once selected, winners are announced to all of Google to remind all managers about the impact that good people management can have. Google has found that employees with strong managers report being happier and more productive, scoring higher across all themes on the annual employee survey.

Guide: Recognize and learn from great managers

Learn from great managers

Beyond the recognition, GMA winners are also asked to contribute to making managers better across the company. Winners become an incredible resource by sharing what's worked for them through Q&A sessions, one-on-one coaching sessions with other managers, and other discussion channels. These great managers are given many opportunities to share what they’ve learned with their peers, whether it is a formal discussion panel or just-in-time advice offered to a manager when they face a new challenge.

Over the years, Google has built up a network of these great managers across every department and they help demonstrate the behaviors of good management and serve as reminders of the value Google puts on management.