Guide: Develop and support managers

Introduction

When a Googler becomes a people manager, it might be the first time they have professionally managed other people. With so much to learn, Google provides new managers with a robust support network, management resources, and learning programs.

Google usually trains new managers after they’ve already started their new role - generally 45 to 90 days into management. While, intuitively, it makes sense to prepare someone for a job before they start doing it, the team has found managers are most receptive to learning after they’ve had some time in the new role and gathered some experience upon which to reflect.

build Tool: Review Google’s new manager training

These course materials were originally designed for Google managers to help them transition from individual contributor roles to manager roles. In addition to building skills, the curriculum incorporates introspection, perspective shifting, and awareness building. This product has been influenced by years of iteration, internal and external research, and feedback from new managers. This version has been modified to make it as useful as possible for an external audience. Adapt it to fit your organization’s culture and needs.

Make it your own: customize the tool below.

Google's new manager training facilitator guide

This guide helps the facilitator run the session, stay on time, and keep track of what’s coming up next. Print a copy for the facilitator to have in-hand during the session.

Google's new manager student workbook

This workbook includes interactive exercises for the students. Print copies of the workbook for each student.

Google's new manager training presentation slides

This presentation is the core of the training and is presented by the facilitator to the class during the session.

Guide: Develop and support managers

Support your managers

The Project Oxygen study provided clear data that great management matters. Management is a skill that can be learned and improved with time, patience, and practice.

Here are some tips Google shares with managers:

  • Select one or two behaviors to develop. Guide your managers to be realistic about what they can commit to developing. Encourage managers to focus on just one or two behaviors.
  • Ask the team. If managers don’t know which behaviors would have the biggest impact for their team, suggest that they ask their team. This helps discern what’s most important to the team members, and shows the team that their feedback is both heard and used to take action.
  • Be a role model for improvement. Managers should focus on continuously improving as an example for their teams.
Guide: Develop and support managers

Avoid pitfalls

From the Project Oxygen study, the team identified three manager pitfalls, or situations where managers of all types struggled, and tips we use to mitigate them.

When a manager has a tough or sudden transition (e.g., being quickly promoted or hired from outside with little training)

  • Tip: Provide guidance to new managers on the transition from individual contributor to manager and help them in the shift to leading others.
  • Tip: Develop onboarding resources for new managers that focus on understanding your organization's culture and expectations of successful managers.

When a manager lacks a consistent approach to performance management and career development

  • Tip: Encourage managers to hold 1:1 meetings and career development conversations with all their team members, not just the high or low performers.

When a manager spends too little time on managing and communicating

  • Tip: Make sure to show that the organization values management. Recognize and celebrate great managers and hold them up as role models and teachers.
Guide: Develop and support managers

Build a manager community

Google has built a community of manager peers to help them teach and learn from one another. There are official manager communities, but also unofficial groups that have self-organized. Both are great forums for managers to question, advise, and even vent to their fellow managers.

Here are some manager community ideas that have worked for at Google:

  • People manager mailing list: Create a mailing list where any people manager can join and discuss people management topics. Google's managers discuss anything from effective 1:1s to supporting a team member’s promotion to expense report policies. The People Operations team only chimes in if there are specific people-related questions. Otherwise, most questions are answered by fellow managers.
  • Informal forums to share ideas: From manager lunches to happy hours, Google has many forums for managers to share with and challenge each other.
  • Manager development events: If your managers are distributed geographically, getting them together regularly can be valuable. This can be made part of an existing get-together (e.g., conference, regional event). Plan some separate sessions to help build your manager community. Google regularly brings managers together to share best practices, network, and participate in trainings.