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September 8, 2022

Leadership & Behavioral Interview 

Ten common behaviors across high-scoring managers:

  • Is a good coach.
  • Empowers team and does not micromanage.
  • Creates an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being
  • Is productive and results-oriented.
  • Is a good communicator, listens and shares information.
  • Supports career development and discusses performance.
  • Has a clear strategy / vision for the team.
  • Has key technical skills to help advise the team.
  • Collaborates across the company.
  • Is a strong decision maker.

Emotional Intelligence: Cultivating Empathy & Compassion

  • Sympathy (I feel for you) is the awareness of another’s feelings and experiences and understanding that one might help by easing those feelings.
  • Empathy (I understand you) takes the feelings and experiences of others and internalizes them, a vicarious experience of another’s emotions and situation.
  • Compassion (I want to help you) takes it a step further so that empathy then leads to a desire to take action to help alleviate the suffering of another person.

the Golden Rule is to Empathy …as the Platinum Rule is to Compassion

How can I cultivate compassion?

  • Ask how you can help, don’t assume you know what’s wanted
  • Look for commonalities with your directs
  • Encourage cooperation instead of competition in your team
  • Cultivate a genuine curiosity about the individuals on your team
  • Lead by example- treating others with compassion is contagious!
  • Be mindful of boundaries— avoid being an emotional sponge

Why cultivate compassion?

  • Too much empathy can cause stress & burnout for the empathizer
  • Same brain regions are activated in the person suffering & empathizing
  • VS. compassion, which instead produces feelings of concern, warmth, and motivation to help the other person
  • Compassion training can lower stress hormones, boost immunity, and may even reduce your risk of heart disease

Four Types of Reappraisal

  • Reinterpreting : How can I take the threat away from this situation?
  • Normalizing : It’s OK because others feel this way too
  • Reordering : I’m going to think about the value I’m putting on this
  • Repositioning : I’m going to consider this from another perspective

Coaching Skills and GROW (Goal – Reality – Options – Will) Mode

Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.

When should I coach?

  • When working with high-potentials : Coaching fosters their long-term development
  • When working with knowledge workers : The “expert” leadership role has limitations when workers may be more knowledgeable than the boss
  • When commitment trumps control : When securing employees’ commitment and intrinsic motivation is more important than controlling them, coaching is the best approach
  • When the issue is around managing relationships : e.g. stakeholder management, how to motivate others

When Should Coaching be Avoided?

  • When dealing with serious underperformers : Coaching is not a performance plan
  • When you do have the answers. If you know exactly how work must be done, direct instruction is better than inquiry : If a question has just one answer, people feel quizzed
  • When task control is more important than commitment : In doing routine tasks for example, this may be the case
  • If the coach believes the coachee cannot achieve the goal : An important aspect of coaching is having a growth mindset. If this is the case, question yourassessment before acting.
  • When there are safetyor legal risks involved

True coaching does not happen often, because most of us find it hard to stop giving advice.

  • Best Questions: WHAT and HOW
  • Info Questions: WHO, WHEN, WHERE
  • Less: WHY
  • Be fully present for and focused on the coachee
  • Be aware of your own mindset and that of the coachee
  • Practice empathic listening(aka active or reflective listening)
  • Ask open-ended questions to facilitate coachee’s own insight

Stage 1 – GOAL (you want)

Help coachee articulate a specific meaningful goal, including what success would look like. It’s rare to uncover the most meaningful / impactful goal in the first telling. It is the coach’s job to delve more deeply to clarify the goal further.


  • What do you want, desire, or need to overcome?
  • What are your interests, values and motivations?
  • What will success or achievement look or feel like?
  • When will you know you have succeeded?
  • How will you know you have succeeded?
  • How important is this to you?

Stage 2 – REALITY (of today)

Help coachee articulate the “here and now” so s/he can map the journey to the goal. Watch for trying to gather too much data; as coach you only need to understand general dynamics, how coachee interprets the situation, and the impact on him/her. Provide objectivity and invite coachee to see the situation from different angles.


  • Where are you now with this topic?
  • What makes you think that?
  • What would your peers say about it?
  • What obstacles are currently in the way of your success?
  • What resources do you need to achieve your goal?

Stage 3 – OPTIONS (for action)

Help coachee brainstorm a list of potential actions to move toward goal. Go for quantity rather than quality of ideas; quality eval comes later. Encourage creativity and brainstorm ALL potential ways to achieve goal before deciding on actions. Offer your ideas after coachee exhausts his/hers. Attribute equal weight to all ideas.


  • If your biggest obstacle wasn’t there, what would you do?
  • If you had endless resources, what would you do?
  • What would your best friend, manager, or peer want or do in this situation?
  • What can you do right now to further develop skills that would be useful in reaching your goal?
  • What have helpful mentors done that has helped you progress?

Stage 4 – WILL (take these steps)

Help coachee determine specific action plan s/he “owns” and follows to achieve the goal. This stage is about forward momentum and converting the discussion to a decision. Allow coachee to select relevant actions and decide how they want to be accountable.


  • What will you do?
  • On a scale of 1-10, how committed are you to doing this? (If 6 or below, ask what would bring them to an 8-10.)
  • What obstacles could arise? How will you overcome them?
  • When will you start?
  • How will you and I know it’s been achieved or completed?
  • Who will you ask for feedback after you’ve taken action?
  • What advocacy would help? How can I provide more support towards your development?

Focused attention on coaching is more important than the time spent. What matters most is listening so the other person feels heard. Eliminate distractions and cultivate a sense of presence in the moment.

Decision Making Styles

Tell (Let’s do X)

  • Time critical; leader retains all control of final decision
  • Simple decision that needs to be acted on quickly
  • Limited impact to team
  • Leader has sufficient data or knows pertinent information
  • Members’ interests or objectivity will be compromised

Consult (Thanks for your input. I propose X. Anyone disagree?)

  • Time critical; leader retains all control of final decision
  • Ideas that need to be tested across the team
  • Decision has greater impact on team, so involvement is necessary
  • Members or others have expertise
  • Leader has ideas they explicitly want input on before deciding
  • Decision that needs greater buy-in and support

Delegate (I’d like [Person A] to look into this then tell me [the options/what you decide])

  • Less time sensitive; decision best handled by smaller group without entire team’s input
  • A need for parallel tasks and speed is critical
  • Smaller group has competence and motivation to take on the decision
  • Decision/task will develop the individual

Consensus (I’d like everyone to get on the same page about X)

  • Less time sensitive; decision needs to be jointly owned and supported by team
  • Decision requires input from across the team
  • Outcome will directly impact the team in significant ways
  • Decision may not be implemented unless the team feels they have had a significant contribution in the decision-making process

Overcome Bias with Reappraisal

Balancing Advocacy, Inquiry & Summary


  • State views directly, while open to influence
  • Be explicit about your reasoning, interests, concerns & conclusions
  • Offer examples
  • Make points one at a time


  • Test your understanding
  • Solicit a range of ideas
  • Explore other’s reasoning, concerns and interest
  • Encourage challenge, questions and feedback


  • Synthesize the others’ views in your own words
  • Test your understanding of the others’ concerns
  • Capture their full meaning; express their situation

Decision Making Framework

Team Decisions: Consent vs Consensus


  • Acquiescence or agree to a course of action without paramount assent
  • Based on everyone’s range of tolerance rather than preference
  • It’s proposed we do X, does anyone feel strongly or have an strong opposing view?


  • Full agreement on the course of action, including almost all the details
  • Requires negotiation of all details, full agreement
  • Do we all agree that we should do X?

Other Challenges to Decision Making

  • Unconscious Biases
  • Emotional Triggers

Unconscious Biases Impede Quality Decisions

  • Confirmation Bias: more likely to select information that supports pre-existing attitudes and beliefs
  • Availability Bias: the tendency to assess the relative importance of issues by the ease with which they are retrieved from memory
  • Anchoring Effect: the misconception that you analyze all factors before deciding, when first impressions affect perceptions and decisions
  • Loss Aversion (status quo) Fallacy: prioritizing options by avoiding the potential for loss over pursuing the potential for gain
  • In-group Bias: the tendency for people to give preferential treatment to others they perceive to be members of their own groups

Emotional Triggers

  • Experiencing threat or embarrassment creates a stress reaction
  • Defensiveness, posturing or face-saving kick in
  • May fear the issue will just get worse if it is raised

Overcoming Biases & Triggers Through Reappraisal

  • Cognitive & Emotional – Attitudes that Impede
    • Push my point
    • What I see is how it is
    • I know I’m right
    • They need to figure it out
  • Collaborative Mindset – Know and Feel to Overcome
    • I respond rather than react
    • I have one perspective of many
    • Suspend my agenda to listen
    • Best decision for the company

What (What are you solving for and are the objectives clear to everyone?)

  • Address root causes, not situational fixes
  • Establish priorities for what to tackle (and what’s out of scope)
  • Anticipate outcomes by defining success criteria at the onset
  • Consider ways to simplify or tweak existing structures and look for solutions that scale

Why (What’s at stake (if you do it or don’t do it) and why is it important?)

  • Does it solve a business need and/or good for the company longer term?
  • Is this a good use of time?
  • Does this fit in with other current priorities?

Who (Is everyone clear who the decision maker is?)

  • Default to open: listen and ask questions
  • Be generous with providing context—it’ll enable others to do their jobs better
  • Give people the benefit of the doubt and assume positive intent

How (How will the decision be made? (e.g., consensus driven; how will data be used))

  • Define your exception criteria (which should rarely apply)
  • Make tradeoffs explicit
  • Help scale good judgment by communicating the rationale for the decision after it is made

When (When can people expect a decision?)

  • Be transparent about what decision was made and how it will be communicated
  • If elements of the decision making process change or are delayed, communicate that to all stakeholders

Add Clarity to Decisions with RACI

  • R (Who is Responsible?) : The person who is assigned to do the work
  • A (Who is Accountable?) : The person who makes the final decision and has the ultimate ownership
  • C (Who is Consulted?) : The person who must be consulted before a decision or action is taken
  • I (Who is Informed?) : The person who must be informed that a decision or action has been taken

Becoming the best kind of leader isn’t about emulating a role model or a historic figure. Rather, your leadership must be rooted in who you are and what matters most to you. When you truly know yourself and what you stand for, it is much easier to know what to do in any situation. It always comes down to doing the right thing and doing the best you can.

Your Role as a People Manager

Success is when I add value to myself. Significance is when I add value to others

Lead (Deliver a shared vision and encourage the team to achieve that vision)

  • Develop and communicate a shared vision, strategy, and priorities with input from the entire team
  • Ensure the team’s work is aligned to short- and long-term company objectives
  • Motivate and inspire direct reports
  • Model our culture and positive behavior
  • Encourage and reward innovation and thoughtful risk-taking
  • Anticipate and initiate change, demonstrate resilience and help the team adapt
  • Foster transparency in the team; pass information vertically

Coach (Assist team members in setting and meeting their individual development goals, improving performance, and leveraging skills)

  • Set and communicate expectations for new and existing team members
  • Actively participate in team meetings and conduct regular 1:1s with each direct report
  • Provide actionable and timely feedback to each member of the team
  • Actively manage low and high performance
  • Share your expertise and your network to help build direct’s skills
  • Learn about direct’s developmental goals, strengths, and interests
  • Advise and assist in identifying or creating opportunities for growth

Advocate (Remove roadblocks, build the team’s credibility, and positively represent the team to others at the company)

  • Actively reach out to the team to understand their work and accomplishments
  • Help the team build its credibility and get recognized for its achievements
  • Represent the team interests, challenges, and needs to other relevant stakeholders
  • Anticipate and remove barriers to help your team members do their jobs
  • Shield the team from unnecessary burdens or noise

Deliver Results (Help the team as a whole be more productive than they would be working individually)

  • Take responsibility for team’s results
  • Set, document, and measure OKRs
  • Recruit, advance and retain a diverse team
  • Work side-by-side with team to get things done when needed
  • Make timely decisions by driving consent; clearly communicate decision-making rationale
  • Develop criteria to assign projects to the team
  • Remove silos; encourage inter-team project work and shared goals
  • Encourage the team to collaborate and discuss and respect diverse perspectives

Administer (There are tactical things at times that managers need to do)

  • Evaluate performance of direct reports and actively participate in calibration
  • Participate in salary planning, bonus, and equity planning
  • Nominate reports for promotion and communicate committee feedback
  • Determine optimal allocation of people and financial resources based on need and business strategy
  • Do the paperwork (approve leaves, timesheets, support transfers, review/approve team expenses)

Getting to Know Your Direct Reports: Conversation Guide

STEP 1: Set Up the Meeting

Define the purpose of the meeting and set the intent that you want to get to know your directs better. Desired outcomes of the meeting include:

  • Getting to know your report
  • Building the relationship
  • Understanding the support they would like from you
  • Sharing of your career development philosophy and what they can expect from you

Set the tone and objective of the meeting:

  • I’d like to spend some time in today’s meeting getting to know each other better.
  • We’ve gone through a lot of change recently and I want to understand your work style, your history, what you’re passionate about, your career interest and goals, and how I can best support you. We won’t cover everything today but I wanted to at least start the conversation.

STEP 2: Get to Know Your Employee

Purpose : Start to get to know your employee better and build the foundation of your employee / manager relationship. Remember the purpose is to get to know your employee so listen more, talk less.

Pick the questions that resonate with you. You can also use these questions over several 1:1 sessions.

  • Personal
    • What are your interests in both work and life?
    • Tell me a little about yourself. Your past work experiences. Where you went to school. The types of trainings you’ve completed.
    • What are your hobbies? What do you like to do for fun?
  • Work
    • What is your dream job in 10 years? Would that be different if money was no object?
    • What are some of the accomplishments you are most proud of (personally, in work)?
    • What are some of your biggest challenges?
    • What do you think are your natural strengths and talents?
    • What skills do you currently enjoy using either in your new or old role?
    • What are your current developmental goals?
    • What skills do you think we utilize? What skills do you feel are unused?
  • Working Style
    • Tell me about your working style.
    • What motivates you?
    • How do you like to be recognized?
    • Who is the best manager you’ve had and why?
    • How do you like to be managed (e.g., likes structure, loves autonomy, works best alone, wants to be part of a team)?

STEP 3: Open Up the Conversation

Purpose : While the objective is for you to get to know your direct report, it is important that they get to know you too.

Ask them: Is there anything you want to ask or know about me?

STEP 4: Wrap Up

Purpose : Summarize any action items and thank them for their time.

Wrap up the meeting:

  • Thank you for sharing – I learned a lot about you and really look forward to working together.
  • I will follow up on X as discussed.
  • Let’s keep this conversation going and remember I am here to support you.

In sports, many former athletes can tell stories about how a coach changed their life by identifying strengths, unlocking their potential, and encouraging them to persevere.

It is also important for managers to be able to flex their coaching styles – for example, the needs of individual team members may require them to be a “teaching” coach where the manager passes along an expertise to achieve something concrete, or a “facilitating coach” where the manager asks questions and listens instead of telling or giving answers.

Across the coaching continuum, here are some tips to share with your managers:

  • Have regular 1:1s with your team member and be fully present and focused on the team member
  • Be aware of your own mindset and that of the team member
  • Practice active listening and ask open-ended questions to facilitate the team member’s own insight (questions that start with “what” and “how” encourage expansive thinking)
  • Provide specific and timely feedback
  • Balance positive (motivational) and negative (constructive) feedback and understand the unique strengths and development areas of each team member

Hold effective 1:1 meetings

Set up a regular meeting

  • Choose a consistent time, generally lasting 30-60 minutes, every week or two.
  • Have the 1:1 meeting away from a conference room or desk – head outside for a walk.

Determine the agenda of the meeting

  • Set up a shared agenda document to help structure your discussion time. Both the manager and team member should contribute.
  • Here are some agenda items to get you started:
    • Check-in and catch-up questions: “What can I help you with?” and “What have you been up to?”
    • Roadblocks or issues
    • Goal updates
    • Administrative topics (e.g., upcoming vacations, expense reports)
    • Next steps to confirm actions and agreements
    • Career development and coaching

Meet for the 1:1

  • Be on time.
  • Stick to the agenda, whenever possible.
  • Give the meeting your full attention.
  • Ask for feedback: “Is there anything I should be doing for you that I am not doing?” or “Anything I should be doing better or more often?”
  • Review action items and things to discuss in the next 1:1.
  • Ask “What else?” (It’s surprising to see what can come up as an afterthought!)

Effective managers empower their teams by giving them opportunities to stretch and grow in four ways.

  • 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.

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.

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?

Delegate effectively

  • 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.

Empower your team and build trust

  • 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.

Effective managers show care for their teams not only professionally, but personally as well.

Professionally, managers can develop their teams by offering feedback, identifying opportunities for growth, and focusing on skill development. Rather than homing in on vertical career progression, Google managers can encourage their team to consider alternative, but equally impactful, opportunities to develop, such as lateral moves (i.e., developing new skills by moving into an equivalent role in a new team) or mastering a skill to become the go-to expert on the team.

Personally, Google teaches managers that caring for the the personal well-being of their teams is a critical behavior of successful managers. But it’s not enough for a manager to simply care about their team members as people. In the research, the Google team learned that employees value how their managers show their consideration and support. Managers need to show and communicate their care back to employees. Having empathy and developing emotional intelligence can be very helpful.

Hold effective career development conversations

Google encourages managers to have dedicated career conversations at a regular cadence, roughly once a quarter. Everyone’s needs are different, so managers should flex frequency appropriately (e.g., if an team member is preparing for a promotion or is more junior, you might hold more frequent check-ins).

Before having a career development conversation, prepare by thinking about:

  • What is the team member’s performance and trajectory?
  • What kind of work do they enjoy doing?
  • What kind of work do they do well?
  • What are they currently doing?
  • What does the organization need them to do?
  • What is one area for development?
  • What type of career development support do they want?
  • What would help this person feel valued?

Structure career conversations with GROW

Goal: What do you want? Establish what the team member really wants to achieve with their career.

“Where do you see yourself in one, five, and ten years?” “If money or your current skills weren’t an issue, what would be your dream role?” “What are your interests, values, and motivations?”

Reality: What’s happening now? Establish the team member’s understanding of their current role and skills.

“What are the most rewarding or frustrating aspects of your current role?” “Do you feel challenged or stretched in your current role? What would make it more challenging? What isn’t challenging you?” “What feedback have you received from other people on your strengths and weaknesses?”

Options: What could you do? Generate multiple options for closing the gap from goal to reality.

“What can you do right now to further develop skills that would be useful in reaching that goal we talked about earlier?” “What stretch assignments, big projects, or experiences could you pursue?” “What networking or mentorship options are there?”

Will: What will you do? Identify achievable steps to move from reality to goal.

“What will you do? By when?” “What resources would be useful? What skills will help you get there?” “What advocacy would help? How can I or our team leader provide more support towards your development?”

Use “One Simple Thing” for goal setting

Google makes available a popular goal-setting practice to encourage personal well-being called “One Simple Thing.” Individuals can set a goal to improve their well-being and work-life flexibility, and managers can help their team members adhere to those goals.

Team members can create their own non-work goal and share it with their manager. The goal should be something that will make a measurable impact on their well-being. Managers can encourage team members to explain how pursuing this one thing won’t negatively affect their work. That goal then becomes part of a team member’s set of goals that managers should hold them accountable for, along with whatever work-related goals they already have. Managers can encourage their team members to share their “One Simple Thing” with other team members, maybe even friends and family at home, to ensure others are holding them accountable as well.

Here are some examples of “One Simple Thing” goals:

“I will take a one hour break three times a week to work out.” “I will leave the office by 6 pm twice per week to be able to play with my daughter before bed.” “I will not read emails on the weekends.” “I will disconnect on a one-week vacation this quarter.”

*** Emotional Intelligence: Cultivating Empathy & Compassion (above)

Google’s research has found that often effective managers focus on empowering their teams to deliver concrete results. They combine a focus on urgency with an understanding of what results will have the most impact. One of the most critical roles that a manager can play is to anticipate roadblocks and help remove them for their team members.

Having the technical skills to work alongside the team helps managers act as credible advisors by showing they have deep expertise in their field. It can help them keep their skills current and sends an important message: the manager is not just the leader but a participant on the team.

Here is a short list of the behaviors of Google’s higher-scoring managers demonstrate to support their team’s productivity and ability to deliver results:

  • Keeps the team focused on results
  • Helps the team prioritize
  • Removes roadblocks
  • Is clear about who owns what
  • Is a hard worker; sets the pace for the team

Enhance team productivity with hard work

At Google, many effective managers are credible advisors to their teams. These managers usually have deep expertise in their field of work which they can use to help team members come up with creative solutions. These managers often:

  • Roll up their sleeves work alongside the team
  • Understand the challenges of the work
  • Help solve problems based on their technical knowledge and skills

It can be helpful for managers to work side-by-side with the team to demonstrate their knowledge and keep their skills current. Also important is the signal that it sends: getting involved can show that the manager is not just the leader but a participant on the team.

Vision is everything about what drives our work. Core values, purpose, mission and strategy are all part of our vision.

Setting a vision is an important behavior of high-scoring managers. A clear team vision is helpful for a number of reasons, in particular:

  • It’s crucial to the success of a team. One highly-rated manager at Google explained that “having a compelling, shared vision is crucial to the success of your team, as it allows all of you to stay focused and move forward in the same direction. Conversely, not having a vision can dramatically hurt your team through lack of focus and a commensurate lack of momentum.”
  • Team members need to know where they’re going. A clear vision means that everyone on the team knows where they’re going, if they’re on track, and what success looks like.
  • It helps teams decide what to work on. A clear vision helps teams make trade-offs and prioritize. Managers should tie back to the vision when communicating decisions.

Once set, a manager also needs to be effective at communicating that vision to the team. Google’s high-scoring managers are clear, concise, and honest in their verbal and written communications. But being a good communicator also means being an effective listener. Google encourages managers to be available for their teams and to encourage open dialogue and honest feedback, even when there’s tough news.

Create a vision with the team

To help managers create a vision with their team, Google offers the following steps to help teams define their values and connect them to their short-term goals:

  • Core values describe the team’s deeply held beliefs; these feed into the team purpose and mission.
  • Purpose is the reason why the team exists, and how the team impacts the organization. If the team didn’t exist, what would happen?
  • Mission describes what the team is trying to achieve.
  • Strategy is how the team plans to realize the mission. Strategy can be long-term.
  • Goals break down the strategy into shorter-term, achievable objectives and help align the team’s efforts.

Together, the values, purpose, mission, and strategies make up the team vision — why the team exists, what the team is trying to achieve, and how it’ll get there.

  • CORE VALUES -> Summary of principles, values, and deeply held beliefs of the organization
  • PURPOSE -> The fundamental reason for the organization’s existence
  • MISSION -> Statement that articulates a clear / compelling goal you are striving to achieve
  • STRATEGY -> Key steps or objectives to achieve the Mission
  • OKRs -> Plans for accomplishing the strategies — what, who, when

What are values?

Pervasive standards that influence almost every aspect of our lives

Values guide our behaviors and are expressed by:

  • Our response to others
  • Our commitments to personal and organizational goals
  • The way we spend our time
  • The way we operate as a team

Vision refers to the future and to what we should be doing, whereas values refer to the means or how we can achieve the desired results.

Forming core values can help teams…

  • Build trust & psychological safety with each other
  • Be more willing to take risks
  • Be more open to learning and growing
  • Feel a greater sense of inclusion and commitment

What is purpose?

Google’s internal research on teams found that teams which find meaning in their work generally have:

  • higher work and life satisfaction
  • stronger intra-team connections
  • less conflict

Mission: what we want to achieve A mission is a statement that articulates a clear and compelling goal that our team is striving to achieve.

Mission examples: Google: Organize the world’s information & make it universally accessible & useful. Google PeopleDev team: Strengthen Google’s performance and culture by preparing Googlers to successfully navigate their most critical challenges today and in the future. Patagonia: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis. Warby Parker: To offer designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially-conscious businesses.

Attributes of a Mission: Ideal… conveys a compelling picture of the future, a sense of what is possible Inspirational & values oriented… appeals to all those who have a stake in the Mission Focused… is clear enough to guide decision-making Flexible… is general enough to accommodate changing business conditions Communicable… can be successfully explained within two minutes

Strategy definitions

A set of actions that guide your team’s performance toward your future state…..your Mission

  • Strategic action takes on many forms. It can be a single initiative designed to meet a specific future goal.
  • Strategies can be leveraged; a single project can meet multiple future goals.
  • Strategic action requires change: a change in investment of resources and people, and a change in habits and how work gets done.

Building blocks of Strategy

  • Look outside to identify threats and opportunities
  • Look inside at resources, capabilities, and practices
  • Consider strategies for addressing threats & opportunities
  • Create alignment: communicating & coordinating work processes

Be prepared for change!

Listen and reflect

Reflective listening involves listening to and reflecting on the words and feelings someone displays. It can help managers more effectively communicate, making their team members feel better understood. In Google’s manager research, a Googler described their high-scoring manager like this: “In every interaction with him, I felt he understood what I was saying, knew how to help, and wasn’t afraid to push me out of my comfort zone”.

Here are some tips Google shares with managers on how to reflect on both the words and feelings heard during a conversation:

Acknowledge emotion “You seem frustrated/upset/happy about this.”

Summarize what you’ve heard to ensure you understand, highlighting the key points “It sounds like …” “In other words …” “So you are saying …”

Use uncertainty to get clarification on the other’s frame of reference “I’m not sure I understand, can you say more about …” “I think this is what you mean, is this accurate?”

Respond with acceptance and empathy “I see why this matters to you.” “I can understand why you’d feel that way.”

Giving feedback

Giving feedback is one of the most important and challenging responsibilities of a good manager. Google encourages managers to consider the following when giving feedback to their team members:

Giving quality feedback. Ask yourself, “Do I give the same quality of feedback to each team member? Do I know my team members’ projects equally well?” After thinking about this, one manager at Google decided to make his 1:1 times longer for team members who were in a different office from him so he had enough time to have a real discussion.

Using consistent criteria. Ask yourself, “Have I outlined expectations and anticipated outcomes for my team members? Have I defined criteria for success for each person on the team?” Using criteria that are clear creates a sense of fairness once you start evaluating team members. As you judge the team member’s performance or interpersonal skills, think about how you would evaluate that behavior if it came from someone else on the team. Be mindful of potential unconscious biases and hold yourself accountable to applying clear criteria consistently.

Filtering based on assumptions. Ask yourself, “Do I sometimes filter what I say based on assumptions?” For example, are you ruling out a team member for a role that could involve a lot of travel because they have a child? Don’t let your assumptions get in the way of you sharing an opportunity. Bring up the role with the individual or announce it to the team as a whole, and let them do their own filtering. Not unrelated, don’t assume that you can’t provide honest advice to someone because they “may not be able to handle it.” Assumptions can be based on unconscious stereotypes of a particular group, and the key is to keep communication and messaging consistent for all.

Making sure you are understood. Ask yourself: “Am I making sure my message was accurately understood?” The more differences there are between you and the person to whom you are giving feedback, the higher the possibility your message wasn’t received quite as intended. Your message may go through more filters and cultural assumptions than you may anticipate. Ask to hear what the team member understood and clarify the message if needed.