Guide: Care professionally and personally for your team


Google Manage Behaviors 3 Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being. 6 Supports career development and discusses performance.

Google's manager research revealed that effective managers show care for their teams not only professionally, but personally as well.

Professionally, managers can develop their teams by offering feedback, identifying opportunities for growth, and focusing on skill development. Rather than homing in on vertical career progression, Google managers can encourage their team to consider alternative, but equally impactful, opportunities to develop, such as lateral moves (i.e., developing new skills by moving into an equivalent role in a new team) or mastering a skill to become the go-to expert on the team.

Personally, Google teaches managers that caring for the the personal well-being of their teams is a critical behavior of successful managers. But it’s not enough for a manager to simply care about their team members as people. In the research, the Google team learned that employees value how their managers show their consideration and support. Managers need to show and communicate their care back to employees. Having empathy and developing emotional intelligence can be very helpful.

Guide: Care professionally and personally for your team

Hold effective career development conversations

Google encourages managers to have dedicated career conversations at a regular cadence, roughly once a quarter. Everyone’s needs are different, so managers should flex frequency appropriately (e.g., if an team member is preparing for a promotion or is more junior, you might hold more frequent check-ins).

Before having a career development conversation, prepare by thinking about:

  • What is the team member’s performance and trajectory?
  • What kind of work do they enjoy doing?
  • What kind of work do they do well?
  • What are they currently doing?
  • What does the organization need them to do?
  • What is one area for development?
  • What type of career development support do they want?
  • What would help this person feel valued?

build Tool: Structure career conversations with GROW

To help managers structure career conversations with their teams, Google uses the GROW model (developed by Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore) as one tool to guide the process.

Goal: What do you want? Establish what the team member really wants to achieve with their career.

  • “Where do you see yourself in one, five, and ten years?”
  • “If money or your current skills weren’t an issue, what would be your dream role?”
  • “What are your interests, values, and motivations?”

Reality: What’s happening now? Establish the team member's understanding of their current role and skills.

  • “What are the most rewarding or frustrating aspects of your current role?”
  • “Do you feel challenged or stretched in your current role? What would make it more challenging? What isn’t challenging you?"
  • “What feedback have you received from other people on your strengths and weaknesses?”

Options: What could you do? Generate multiple options for closing the gap from goal to reality.

  • “What can you do right now to further develop skills that would be useful in reaching that goal we talked about earlier?”
  • “What stretch assignments, big projects, or experiences could you pursue?”
  • “What networking or mentorship options are there?”

Will: What will you do? Identify achievable steps to move from reality to goal.

  • “What will you do? By when?”
  • “What resources would be useful? What skills will help you get there?”
  • “What advocacy would help? How can I or our team leader provide more support towards your development?”

Make it your own: customize the tool below.

Career conversation worksheet

Print this worksheet and use it to structure your career conversations with your team members.

Guide: Care professionally and personally for your team

Understand emotional intelligence and compassion

Google tries to help managers understand how to be both empathetic and compassionate so they can demonstrate personal consideration for their teams. This first requires understanding the difference between empathy and compassion. Empathy is the ability to take the perspective of the circumstances or emotional state of another. Compassion takes it a step further: it’s when you not only feel empathy but also have a desire to address and alleviate the discomfort of the other.

Researchers have started documenting this distinction between empathy and compassion. Neuroscience has shown that too much empathy can cause stress and burnout for the empathizer while compassion instead produces feelings of concern, warmth, and motivation to help the other person.

Google offers these tips to managers to cultivate compassion:

  • Ask how you can help, and don’t assume you know what’s wanted.
  • Look for commonalities with your team members.
  • Encourage cooperation instead of competition in your team.
  • Cultivate a genuine curiosity about the individuals on your team.
  • Lead by example; treating others with compassion is contagious.
  • Be mindful of boundaries; avoid being an emotional sponge.

build Tool: Use “One Simple Thing” for goal setting

Google makes available a popular goal-setting practice to encourage personal well-being called “One Simple Thing.” Individuals can set a goal to improve their well-being and work-life flexibility, and managers can help their team members adhere to those goals.

Team members can create their own non-work goal and share it with their manager. The goal should be something that will make a measurable impact on their well-being. Managers can encourage team members to explain how pursuing this one thing won't negatively affect their work. That goal then becomes part of a team member’s set of goals that managers should hold them accountable for, along with whatever work-related goals they already have. Managers can encourage their team members to share their “One Simple Thing” with other team members, maybe even friends and family at home, to ensure others are holding them accountable as well.

Here are some examples of “One Simple Thing” goals:

  • "I will take a one hour break three times a week to work out."
  • “I will leave the office by 6 pm twice per week to be able to play with my daughter before bed.”
  • “I will not read emails on the weekends.”
  • "I will disconnect on a one-week vacation this quarter.”

Make it your own: customize the tool below.

One Simple Thing worksheet

Use this worksheet to help team members set a goal to improve their well-being — then hold them to that goal.