Do you have what it takes to be a Manager at Google?

Project Oxygen, is Google’s decade-long research into behavioural commonalities in the company’s highest performing managers.

The company recently released an updated version of the list of 10 traits that make for a top manager at Google:

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers team and does not micromanage
  3. Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and wellbeing
  4. Is productive and results-orientated
  5. Is a good communicator – listens and shares information
  6. Supports career development and discusses performance
  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team
  8. Has key technical skills to help advise the team
  9. Collaborates across Google
  10. Is a strong decision maker

The idea of profiling the traits of high performers is one Kevin Chandler, co-founder of AbilityMap, knows only too well to be the secret sauce of top recruitment.

“Google, due to its sheer size, has a very strong advantage in that they have many high performers to facilitate this research. What I have found to be one of the biggest issues facing businesses is that line managers seldom have a unified view on the required capabilities for high performance in a role. This research combines the collective wisdom of many actual high performers and so increases the accuracy of the capability profile.”

Google’s research also takes into account that this set of capabilities for high performance is adaptive. They understand that what made a high performing manager in 2008 is not the same as what makes one today. As their business evolves, so too do the capabilities required for high performance in roles across their business.

The hard part is identifying the inherent traits in people. It’s one thing to know what we need and another altogether to know when we have found it. How can you know from a resume or a round of interviews whether the person in front of you really has the right mix that you need for them to be successful?

This is where AbilityMap comes into its own.

As a highly regarded Industrial Psychologist, we asked Kevin to correlate the 10 traits issued by Google to the AbilityMap capability framework.

“The AbilityMap capability framework is something I’ve been working on for a number of years. It’s a culmination of my research and comprises of 31 core capabilities by which we can measure jobs and people.”

Using the AbilityMap software, Kevin and fellow collaborators went through a scientific process to narrow down the Google traits to a weighted list of AbilityMap capabilities required for high performance. The result? AbilityMap’s Project Oxygen Job Profile.

The other side of AbilityMap involves individual evaluation, the Ability Imprint.  The Imprint measures people on the entire AbilityMap capability framework, allowing comparison to each of the core capabilities in the Project Oxygen Job Profile. The four-part online assessment takes about 45 minutes from start to finish.

The Ability Imprint offers a real win for people as well as businesses.

“We understand the frustration facing both applicants & existing team members. Too often a person looking at a new career opportunity, after jumping through a whole lot of hoops, receives no feedback for their effort – there’s simply too many of them and not enough resources to provide a thoughtful response. With AbilityMap, each and every person gets real, timely feedback on their strengths and is informed that, if they are invited to the next stage, they have the inherent mix of competencies to be successful in that role.  Incredibly useful knowledge when pursuing further employment opportunities and, a way to demonstrate an employer’s respect for the person and the time they’ve invested.”

Co-Founder of AbilityMap, Mike Erlin continues;

‘While in San Francisco recently, I saw companies grappling with growing their applicant pools.  But with turnover ranging from 11% for the tier one firms and circa 38% for the high-demand tech companies, it became clear that re-focusing talent management programs on the actual competencies driving performance in jobs would have a massive impact on productivity and retention.  This is where the function of People meets the purpose of the business.”

The latest development, the AbilityMap Human Capability Balance Sheet, addresses the other, much larger group – the current workforce.

“We’ve created a new dashboard within the AbilityMap platform that enables companies to compare their existing managers to Google’s Project Oxygen and other high performance job profile capabilities. The insights generated give companies unprecedented quantitative perspective and data about the gaps needing to be closed to shift the performance curve to high. Our more advanced customers have already begun applying the Balance Sheet to prioritising training and development spend, workforce planning, succession, performance coaching and career pathing… as well as recruitment.

“Think of the impact this would have to a company of over 88,000 existing employees.  Anyone have Google’s phone number?”


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