Manager Swap: Trade Professional Lives for a Fresh Perspective

Business colleagues greeting eachother at workJust like any other relationship, sometimes your relationship with your work team can get in a slump. Nothing is really wrong; it just feels a little hum-drum. It’s missing that old spark it once had. You may even be wishfully looking at other teams inside or outside your business and wondering, “Is the grass really greener on the other side?” But, before you jump ship and seek out the frontier of a new team, maybe you should try an experiment. Consider a manager swap.

If you’ve ever watched ABC’s television show “Wife Swap,” a manager swap is very similar. It goes something like this.

First, you find another leader who is feeling the same as you. Ask your fellow leaders at your next manager’s meeting or check with your friends in leadership positions at other companies. Once you’ve found someone to swap with, you each should talk with your respective supervisors or whoever else needs to give you approval.

Next, give your team a head’s up. You don’t want to surprise them one morning with a new manager. Let them know you’re experimenting with a manager swap to help be a better leader and get a fresh perspective on work. Plus, your team stands to learn just as much you will.

If you’re able, you can stay true to the show that inspired the idea and swap for two weeks. But, since business must go on and most companies wouldn’t want important decisions being made by an outsider, you can also try it for a week or even a day. For the first half of your time, observe, listen, and lead by your new team’s rules. You could discover a whole new method of leadership, or maybe you’ll just confirm you have en effective leadership style. Then, for the second half of your time, lead by your own rules. Your temporary team will get to experience a new management style, and you’ll learn how a different set of employees reacts to your leadership.

At the end of your experiment, gather your new team to say good-bye and obtain honest feedback on your leadership. Most likely, they will be more honest and frank about your leadership than your core team. Find out what they liked and what they didn’t like. Don’t get defensive; just listen and take their suggestions into consideration.

Upon returning to your permanent team, share what you’ve learned and what you might be changing in your workplace. Then ask about their experience with your replacement. Find out if they learned anything new or discovered a management technique that proved more effective for the group.

To get the most out of your experiment, you must implement what you learned. If you discovered some things you want to change, write them down and create a plan to make the change happen. Ask your team to hold you accountable, and make sure you incorporate any things they wanted to change as well.

There’s no reason to stay in a leadership rut. Give your team a break and give another team a try. Whether your swap lasts two weeks, one week, a day, or even just involves swapping ideas over lunch, chances are, you’ll return with a renewed vision and newfound appreciation for your own team.

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