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Doug Shaw

What Goes Around Limited


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Top 10 tips: Engagement for managers


For your employees to be productive, motivated and loyal, it is vital that the line manager is engaged and knows how to lead a team. Doug Shaw shares his top ten tips on how to be a successful manager.


1.    Create the ‘right’ culture. Pretty much everything you do as a manager impacts the culture. Two important aspects are contact and communications. Make sure that contact and comms are regular, concise, relevant and meaningful. As well as face-to-face, one-to-ones and meetings, use technology e.g. MS Communicator. The important thing is to have contact; it doesn’t always have to be face-to-face.

2.    Be honest. Tell your people how it is and always give the rationale. It’s a manager’s job to translate the high level messages and make them relevant. It’s also a manager’s job to ensure that the priorities are clear, small in number and reasonably constant. Ensure the team understand that some things cannot be changed. Explain why this is the case and ensure they know what can be changed and importantly, how you and they can work together to achieve this.

3.    Trust and respect. Both work two ways. Show faith in people’s abilities and treat them as individuals. Get to know your team and what they do, understand them as individuals and understand what motivates them. Ensure you work with your people so that they have the skills and capabilities to deliver what is needed now and in the future to meet their long-term career aims. Be creative about how you work with them on their development e.g. getting your best performer to mentor someone new to the team.

4.    Lead, manage and coach. Set direction and focus and then ask the team how they will support. Encourage you team to be creative. Turn ideas into actions and monitor performance against what has been agreed. Allow large teams to become self-managing and give them empowerment. Think about your own development – get 360 feedback from your team, manager and peers. Identify someone who you admire as a leader/manager/coach and use them as a role model.

5.    Empowerment. Empower the team and individuals by giving clear objectives and encouragement so they become self-supporting, self-managing teams. People are motivated to do well if they feel valued and if they believe that they are listened to. When trying to achieve beyond the ‘norm’, people need to be encouraged to be bold. When things don’t go to plan, the subsequent discussion should be about recovering the situation and sharing the learning from it, not about blame.

6.    Recognise good work or extra effort. People appreciate their work being recognised with a phone call or email, and a simple ‘thank you’ can mean a lot to your people. Think about the form the recognition should take. Some people thrive on recognition amongst their peers. For others, it’s the opportunity to spend time with their management team one on one, for example. There are ample ‘e’ recognition schemes available and make sure recognition isn’t only delivered in 1:1s or by email

7.    Feedback. Give behavioural feedback to your team based on evidence and encourage them to do the same for you. Do not avoid giving the difficult feedback to individuals about their performance and ensure you follow it through.

8.    Take responsibility. Avoid ‘I don’t want to do this either’. Also ensure you are aware of any issues in the team and follow them through as appropriate. Try and maintain consistency and avoid the ‘need it now’ peaks as much as possible.

9.    Honour commitments. For example, one-to-ones, and team audios. Ensure that you do not re-arrange or miss commitments as if this happens too often, your people will not feel valued.

10.    Enjoy working with your team. We all spend a lot of time together at work and no one has ever said we shouldn’t enjoy it. Make sure you have fun together.

Doug Shaw is director at What Goes Around Limited and former change management director at BT.

3 Responses

  1. Engagement

    Great article. Only thing I would add is that the manager must be visible and get round the whole team regularly, informally as well as formally; one-to-one, and to whole team .

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Doug Shaw


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