13 Features of a Great Employer

You spend the bulk of your adult life working. Half of your waking hours are spent at work. Your commute back and forth eats up an average of nearly one hour of your day. And when you get home, the work doesn't always stop: 81 percent of American workers pour in extra effort off the clock. Given the extent of that enormous time-suck, it's a shame that so few of us actually like our jobs. More than half of us are checked out.

But we all have friends who have one of those jobs. Somehow, they actually like their careers. What are the things that separate the great gigs from the dead-end drudgery that smothers so many of us?

Boss Level

Considering your manager has a daily impact on your job, it's no surprise he or she can be the deciding factor in whether you like or loathe going to work. To determine what traits make a great boss, Google crunched the numbers (as Google is known to do) in an internal audit called Project Oxygen. The company came up with eight factors that make bosses great.

  1. Is a good coach. Does your supervisor help you improve your performance? Are they helping you navigate through any challenges?
  2. Empowers team and does not micromanage. A good boss trusts you to do your job and gives you the authority to act. They also keep their eye on the big picture, avoiding criticism of the individual brushstrokes.
  3. Expresses interest/concern for team members' success and well-being. A boss who actually cares about you? Those are a rare breed, indeed. You want a supervisor who will value you as a person, not just a number on a spreadsheet.
  4. Is productive and results-oriented. Everyone feels better when you get things done, so hopefully, you have a manager who chips in and keeps an eye on the scoreboard.
  5. Is a good communicator. "Did you get my email? I sent an email. Did you not understand it? My late-night typos were perfectly clear. Why can't you read my mind? You should have inferred everything by my winky-face emoji."
  6. Helps with career development. Most of us have dreams beyond our current station. A really stellar supervisor keeps tabs on your evolution and even gives you a push every now and then.
  7. Has a clear vision/strategy for the team. It's easy to coast. A good boss has sights set higher and lets you know where you're headed.
  8. Has important technical skills that help him/her advise the team. Okay, so maybe this is more Google-centric, but you'd expect your supervisor to have some skills that you haven't mastered yet. It's nice when you ask for help and your boss is equipped to deliver the goods.

Team Titans

Having a great leader doesn't always mean that your organization will always function well. Just think of every high-priced coach who fails to generate any wins with a team of all-stars. In fact, the research says the members of your team don't even matter. Introverts, extroverts, brains, jocks, Pepsi, Coke — none of that matters as long as your team comes together in five key areas. Winning teams have a secret sauce, and if you're lucky, yours has these traits, identified by Google.

  1. Dependability. Can you rely on your teammates to get things done on time while meeting expectations?
  2. Structure and clarity. Do you know what's expected of you? Is your role well-defined?
  3. Meaning. Does the work matter to you? Do you get fulfillment out of the process?
  4. Impact. Every member of the group needs to believe that the team's mission is important. Is your company making the world a better place or are you just cranking out widgets?
  5. Psychological Safety. How are your ideas treated? Are brainstorms welcomed or frowned-upon? Do you feel like you could go to your boss, throw out a crazy idea, and be greeted with a pat on the back?

It's that last trait that matters above all. If you're in an environment where you can take risks, the possible rewards (to you and the company) are vast. What's more, psychological safety means you don't need a "work persona." You're able to be your true self and trust that you'll be accepted and appreciated. A psychologically safe space is a place that you're most productive and happy.

If your boss and your team check off a majority of these 13 traits, count your lucky stars. If not, print off a copy of this article and nail it to your boss' door like Martin Luther. Or start looking for a new gig.

If you'd like to learn more about what makes the great companies great, check out "Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo From Maslow" by Chip Conley. It's free with a trial of Audible.

How Google Makes Managers Awesome

Written by Ben Bowman September 19, 2017

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