You’ve probably heard of the TV show “Wife Swap.” Ever wondered what would happen if that concept was applied to management? For instance, have you wanted to swap out your manager?
A fascinating experiment was done by a health care system we visited in San Francisco to investigate the long-standing business dilemma of the effect of a manager on performance and culture. In this experiment, leaders started by classifying each department in the organization as green (those with high customer satisfaction scores and high employee engagement), yellow (those departments with average scores) and red (those with low sat. scores and engagement).
This health care organization then decided to see what would happen if they ‘swapped’ quite a few managers of red groups with managers of green groups. They assumed this would show whether leadership really mattered. So, what did happen? With a disapproving shake of her head the head of HR said, “In every single case—every case—no matter the background or expertise of the manager, within a year of the switch, the red departments had turned green and green departments had become red. It was the manager who made the difference.”
Okay, so by now just about every leader knows culture makes a difference in an organization’s success, but can a single manager really influence a culture to that great a degree? Absolutely. This is just one study of many that show the level of impact is actually quite shocking.
As we show in our new book All In, you as the manager are the core influencer of the kind of culture at play in your team, division, or whole company.