Project Oxygen was the code-name given to a bold new plan by Google in early 2009.
Was it a new search algorithm? Or a fancy speech-to-text app? Or some other tech wonder?
None of the above.
It was something much more ambitious: it was a quest to find what makes the perfect manager.
After months of exhaustive data-mining and observations (hey, after all they are Google, analytics is their job!) they came out with a list of 8 Good Behaviors that characterized their best and most effective managers.
Here it is:
I know! Not exactly the dramatic insights you would expect, right?
But being data-generated, this list is gold.
As a whole, it reads as a very Solution Focused approach to management.
It is the ranking of these behaviors that is very interesting.
The key skill to be a successful manager in Google? to Be a Good Coach!
So learning how to become a Coach is important. Very important.
Score one for Coaching.
But we can dig deeper. Take a look at what it means to be a “good coach”:
1 – provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive
2 – have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employee’s strength
Now the question is: how do you do that? It is easier said than done!
I would argue that Solution-Focus is the best way to carry out those desired behaviors.
1 – Solution-Focus’ main tool is feedback; no advice is given. It is constructive feedback, since in Solution Focus we give only positive feedback. By only making comments on what works and not dwelling on what does not work, Solution-Focused Coaching offers an elegant solution to the problem of balancing positive with negative, avoiding all the pitfalls of negative feedback.
2 – in a recent post, I said coaching is the Art of Conversation: so having regular one-on-ones should be no problem to a manager trained in Solution-Focused Coaching. Solution-Focused Coaches do not “present” solutions. They do something even better. They are trained to elicit clients’ (in this case employees’) specific solutions, which are naturally and of necessity built on the employees’ unique strengths! Which is perfectly in line with the next key skill listed, empowering your team.
I believe that Solution-Focused Coaching not only meets the behavioral challenge set by Google, but exceeds those requirements.
The “Be a Good Coach” in this list can be read as “Be a Solution-Focused Coach“!