Google searches for the perfect boss

March 15, 2011 at 8:22 AM ET

In 2009 Google began a project to build better bosses. It was called Project Oxygen and what the search engine found may blow away the theories held in most corner offices in America. It seems workers don’t need smarter bosses, they need … well … ones that care more.

The New York Times describes the process and the findings. Google essentially used itself as a guinea pig, data mining performance reviews, feedback surveys and the like. And initially the key management qualities it found - be productive, have a clear vision, etc. - were like “reading a whiteboard gag from an episode of ‘The Office.’” 

But when the search giant used its analytics to rank the "Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers," it found something surprising. People want a boss who takes an interest in them as people and who leads them to solve problems by asking questions, not by providing answers.

While our adventures in management have been sometime more akin to babysitting (“Wait, how come S-S-SHE gets to have next Wednesday off!!???!!!!”), it has been our experience that good workers rarely want the boss to do their job, they just want he/she to make it possible for them to do their job and get out of the way. Nice to see Google agrees.