Google’s Oxygen and Coaching

There are some things in life where recipes are hard to follow. What works for some is counter-productive for others yet there is no argument that hearing about others’ experiences expands not only the knowledge but one’s point of view. So, when I saw the NYT article Google’s Quest To Build a Better Boss, I smiled.

Trends take a long time to take hold but the issue is that slowly and gradually they break through – and coaching is moving up on the world – not because a coach said so but because the ones who got the benefit also figured out that coaching helps.

Reading the article, I couldn’t help but think it was giving advice on how to be a better team leader. But what made me pause was this: “their mission was to devise something far more important to the future of Google Inc. than its next search algorithm or app.”

Great piece of PR on Google’s spirit of caring about its people? Certainly. But, the point is  that “people operations” as Google smartly calls its human resources function (I personally find the term most unfortunate in corporate speak – after all how often do we refer to people as humans?) went beyond the conventional to find out what makes Google staff tick.

The testimonial tells the story of one manager whose employees seemed to despise him. He was driving them too hard. They found him bossy, arrogant, political, secretive. They wanted to quit his team. Because of that heavy hand, this manager was denied a promotion he wanted, and was told that his style was the reason. But Google gave him one-on-one coaching — the company has coaches on staff, rather than hiring from the outside. Six months later, team members were grudgingly acknowledging in surveys that the manager had improved.

Curious to see what rules Google came up with? If it matters than you probably care – which means that you are not all that bad when it comes to leading.

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