Reading this New York Times Article on Google’s Quest to Build a Better Boss will make you go “…Hello??” in only a few seconds.
In a quest to improve people management skills, Google had a team analyze countless performance reviews and feedback surveys, turn them into code and hard numbers over a period of several months, only to come up with the following:
“… [They] found that technical expertise — the ability, say, to write computer code in your sleep — ranked dead last among Google’s big eight.
What employees valued most were even-keeled bosses who made time for one-on-one meetings, who helped people puzzle through problems by asking questions, not dictating answers, and who took an interest in employees’ lives and careers…”
Now there are certainly going to be responses popping up all over the place, resonating with Stever Robbins, who says, “Wow. That’s an eye-opener. I’ll bet no one’s ever observed that before.”
Admittedly my first reaction was the same. The time and money it must have consumed to come to a result of “Duh!” …
On the other hand, being familiar with personality types, it occured to me that we do have to recognize that an organization like Google consists to a large percentage of data-driven analyzers. It comes with the territory. If you’re very data driven, something has to give – that’s usually people skills. It’s the very reason why “data geeks” often are not great people managers (by nature. That doesn’t mean they can’t become very good at it.)
And let’s not ignore that the opposite is true, too: Try to keep a “people geek’s” attention long enough to explain them a simple Excel sheet…
People only become motivated to change, when the reasons for change make sense to them.
The only way to convince a data geek to change is with data-driven analyses and statistics. They need proof that makes sense to THEM (=numbers, data), in order to “get it” and see a reason to change. Geeks need geeky measures :)
So if this approach made the managers “coachable” and open for change; if they’ll become better people managers to their staff now, then this “waste of time” might have been an effective means to a good end, don’t you think?