Guide: Empower your team


Google Manager Behavior 2 Empowers team and does not micromanage.

Google's manager research revealed that effective managers empower their teams by giving them opportunities to stretch and grow in four ways. These managers:

  • Do not micromanage. Encourage managers to delegate work to their team and support team members who take initiative on new ideas.
  • Balance giving freedom with being available for advice. One Googler described how a manager empowered her team: "She lets people run with ideas, but knows when to step in and offer advice to not pursue a failing issue.”
  • Make it clear they trust their team. Suggest that managers give team members the authority to make decisions on their projects without constant check-ins. Avoiding the pitfalls of micromanagement can help build a culture of trust and accountability within a team.
  • Advocate for the team in the wider organization. Encourage managers to share their team’s accomplishments with their own managers and beyond.

The most effective managers usually realize that they work for their teams and not the other way around.

Guide: Empower your team

Adapt, assess, and collaborate

It can be difficult for a manager to find the right balance when supporting a team member. Too much oversight might feel like micromanagement; too little might set them up for failure. And this balance might change over time as a team member’s skills evolve. Managers don’t have to be mind readers to get this right. Google has found that discussing support levels with a team member can help to calibrate the manager.

To prepare for this discussion about how much support is appropriate, Google encourages managers to ask themselves these questions:

  • Assess: What is the capability and motivation of the team member who is going to be working on the task?
  • Adapt: What type of management style will be most effective for this team member?
  • Collaborate: What type of support will this team member need to complete the task successfully? Will the support come from you, or other team members?
Guide: Empower your team

Delegate effectively

Delegating the right projects to the right team members can be tough. The research team found that delegating, or giving authority, responsibility, and decision-making control to an individual or a team, is a behavior of high-scoring managers. Google uses these delegation tips to help managers scope work for delegation, support their team members, and follow through to ensure completion and recognition:

Look at the goals. What is the final objective and what results are needed to achieve it? What parts can be delegated?

Look at yourself. What tasks can’t you delegate, and why? Which tasks play to your own strengths and weaknesses?

Recognize the right person for the work. Who has the right skills to do the work? How might this task help them develop?

Delegate. Have a conversation with the delegatee:

  • Give an overview of the work, including the importance of the assignment, the resources at hand, and why you have chosen the delegatee.
  • Describe the details of the new responsibility. Define the scope of the role, and set performance standards and intended results. Set clear expectations but avoid prescribing how the assignment should be completed.
  • Solicit questions, reactions, and suggestions. Make this a dialogue.
  • Listen to the delegatee’s comments and respond empathetically. Make sure they understand what is expected of them.
  • Share how this impacts the team. Help establish priorities and relieve some of the pressure by getting someone else to share some of the delegatees routine tasks for the duration of the assignment. Make sure to notify those affected by the delegatee's new project as well.
  • Be encouraging. Express confidence in the delegatee’s ability.
  • Establish checkpoints, results, deadlines, and ways to monitor progress. The entire discussion should be a collaborative process.

Stay in touch. Keep in contact with the delegatee and observe the checkpoints you agreed to at the outset. Remember, delegating means letting go.

Recognize and reward. Acknowledge the delegatee for successful completion of the assignment.

Guide: Empower your team

Empower your team and build trust

In the Project Oxygen study, the team found that high-scoring managers empower their teams and avoid micromanaging. Google encourages managers to build trust with their teams in the following ways:

  • Ask for input. Ask your team to be part of the decision-making process.
  • Ask for their ideas and insights. Also, ask how you can improve your style to be more effective.
  • Reinforce with positive feedback. Give positive recognition and feedback to team members when they are effective, especially when they take on a leadership role and are successful.
  • Develop leaders. Delegate projects and tasks to team members and give them authority over specific projects. This gives them a sense of value within the organization. Assign projects to high-performing team members and make them leaders on individual tasks. This will not only help alleviate your own workload, but it also gives your team members an opportunity to shine.
  • Stretch each team member's capabilities. Find ways to help each team member develop and contribute through using their strengths. Assign tasks that will allow your team members to grow and take on additional responsibilities. This can motivate them because it indicates that you feel they are valuable and competent. Explain the reason for this task being given to them and let them know "what's in it for them."
  • Mentor your team members. Focus on coaching them to success. Help them achieve not only the team or company goals, but their personal career goals as well. Find out where they want to be in the next year, or even five years, and give them the tools they need to develop and become successful.
  • Encourage open communication. Make sure that you clearly communicate your goals, projects, and ideas, and encourage your team members to do the same. Establish an environment where team members are comfortable expressing their comments and feel free to experiment with new ideas. Encourage your team members to contribute in brainstorming activities and commend them for their feedback.
  • Demonstrate that you trust your team members. Give them the amount of authority they need to complete the project without checking back with you on every detail.