Project Oxygen started out as an attempt by Google’s People and Innovation Lab (PiLab) to prove that managers don’t really matter. The internal team of researchers, who are focused on understanding how people work, ended up proving the opposite. It became one of the most impactful projects to ever come out of the group according to HR head Laszlo Bock, who spoke to Quartz ahead of the release of his new book Work Rules!
Out of the gate, it proved to Google’s skeptical engineers that managers really do make a difference. But it also provided a roadmap to guide Google’s approach to management. The researchers distilled their conclusions into eight attributes that set exceptional managers apart. These include being a good coach, empowering and not micromanaging a team, and expressing interest in team members’ success and well being.
Figuring out how to manage better has flowed naturally to what Bock describes as PiLab’s next big project, figuring out the science of excellent teams.