IN early 2009, statisticians inside the Googleplex here embarked on a plan code-named Project Oxygen.
¶ Their mission was to devise something far more important to the future of Google Inc. than its next search algorithm or app.
¶ They wanted to build better bosses.
¶ So, as only a data-mining giant like Google can do, it began analyzing performance reviews, feedback surveys and nominations for top-manager awards. They correlated phrases, words, praise and complaints.
¶ Later that year, the “people analytics” teams at the company produced what might be called the Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers.
¶ Now, brace yourself. Because the directives might seem so forehead-slappingly obvious — so, well, duh — it’s hard to believe that it took the mighty Google so long to figure them out:
¶ “Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.”
¶ “Help your employees with career development.”
¶ “Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.”
¶ The list goes on, reading like a whiteboard gag from an episode of “The Office.”
¶ “My first reaction was, that’s it?” says Laszlo Bock, Google’s vice president for “people operations,” which is Googlespeak for human resources.
¶ But then, Mr. Bock and his team began ranking those eight directives by importance. And this is where Project Oxygen gets interesting.
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