Managers are the Biggest Cultural Influencers

“Managers have a disproportionate effect on how the team acts. Empower managers to build psychologically safe teams.”– Julia Rozovsky, People Analytics Manager, Google

In May I heard from many leading companies that were on the Great Place to Work® list at the Great Place to Work® Conference in Chicago. One of my biggest takeaways was that managers are the biggest cultural influencers. Here are a few reasons why:

  • “Managers have a disproportionate effect on how the team actsEmpower managers to build psychologically safe teams. People mimic the styles of their managers. The way the manager talks about projects has an impact – the managers set the tone.”– Julia Rozovsky, People Analytics Manager, Google.
  • “If you never ask your people what they think, you’ll lose your people. Give opportunities for people to provide input on decisions that involve them.” Bill Marriot, Jr. Executive Chairman & Chairman of the Board, Marriott International. (Marriot has been on the Great Place to Work® list for 20 consecutive years.)
  • “Enable Managers – have a summit where you bring all of your managers together and set clear expectations that it is their job to enable their people. You have to shift from management to enablement. You have to think as a manger, how do I enable my team to be successful?” Greg Pryor, VP of Leadership & Organization Effectiveness, Workday.

Asking your team what they think often helps leaders lay a foundation of trust and promotes a psychologically safe environment where ideas can be comfortably shared. Without frequently asking your team what they think, you could be missing out on different perspectives and ideas on issues and problems.

Project Oxygen was a research program at Google that first started out to prove that good managers didn’t matter. After the research was completed, they found that managers do matter and they are vital to an organization’s success and building a great culture. Google sets out to help all managers succeed, especially the ones that are struggling.  Better managers also lead to higher retention, increased job satisfaction and engagement.