Game Changers

Google's Hong Kong head offers leadership tips at SCMP Game Changers event

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 March, 2015, 4:30pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 March, 2015, 7:05pm

Soft skills identified six years ago by an internal Google management study still offer some of the most effective tools for leadership, according to the firm’s managing director in Hong Kong.

Speaking at the South China Morning Post's Game Changers 'Accelerating New Ventures' forum at Kowloon Shangri-la today, Dominic Allon said communication and empathy were some of the most important traits for senior Google staff.

Project Oxygen was started by Google in early 2009 to analyse data from performance reviews and feedback to assess the most effective management traits among its leaders.

"What we were able to do was to scan company best practices and use data to establish a benchmark of best practice, so it wasn't a top-down decision,” Allon said, adding that managers are seen as a resource by Google.

The study, headed by Google’s vice president for people operations Laszlo Bock, identified eight points where managers were working well.

"And you'll see that most of the attributes are around softer skills – so being a good coach is a key attribute.” Allon said.

“Empowering the team, finding brilliant people, attracting and retaining the best people and then getting out of the way.”

A focus on results and a shared vision with employees as well as good communication internally and externally were all management areas identified by the study that remain crucial, Allon said.

With technology at its heart, the study found it was important for managers to have appropriate skills and roll up their sleeves when needed.

The final management skills identified by Project Oxygen were helping employees with staff development and getting to know employees as people.