How to get the most out of your employees

Team work, employees

Jane Sparrow outlines the kind of roles managers need to embrace to engage their staff effectively.

One of the most inspirational leaders that I have coached during my career was quoted in a national newspaper this week saying, “Profit and revenue growth is not a purpose, it’s not why people come to work. It’s what boards and senior management are interested in but it doesn’t motivate people down the organisation. They want to come here and do great work.”

It’s not surprising then that surveys of working mothers show that the vast majority are incredibly willing to balance the extra demands on raising a family and working brings. Yes, it impacts on our energy, commitment and flexibility but we want to do it – even those lucky ones who don’t need to financially! It’s a fact that people will perform well if they are given the right culture in which to thrive. And a huge part of creating that culture is down to our managers and leaders. They are the ones who hold the key to unlocking powerful levels of engagement that results in employees delivering exceptional performance.

These are tough times for business. There is a relentless pressure to perform against a backdrop of economic turbulence and most companies are unable to offer any kind of assurances about job security. So, how then, can we expect our managers and leaders to motivate people to deliver their best?

First, organisations need to get serious about performance development. Like the CEO quoted above, profit and revenue growth is not a purpose but it’s often the only thing our managers and leaders are measured on.

Companies that place learning and development at the heart of their performance are the ones that will flourish. Take inspiration from companies like Innocent, one of the Best Companies To Work For, who ensures managers have dedicated time for coaching and developing employees. These conversations are seen as vital to the performance of the business and are given dedicated time to ensure they take place, away from any other operational discussions.

Secondly, businesses need to support its leaders and managers to be the very best developers of and enablers of performance in others. That means giving them the resources, training, time and space to dedicate time and effort into this vital role.

I believe there are five key roles that managers and leaders need to embrace in order to be great engagers and help maximise the performance of others. Interestingly, my initial research on profiling managers shows that women have different preferences in comparison to male managers when it comes to trusting others and deciding how best to lead them.

The five roles are:

1) The Prophet

The Prophet is all about passion, vision and inspiration. Prophets paint a visual picture of the future in a highly emotive way that others can get hold of and want to be part of. The vision should pack an emotional punch, resonating with all employees and leaving them with no doubt about exactly what the values and vision of its leaders are. In great organisations, when everyone sees the vision, good ideas are everywhere.

2) The Storyteller

The Storyteller uses an emotional and logical mix to bring the story to life about how we will achieve the vision and live our purpose. People need to know from the Storyteller what it looks like, what it feel likes, what the journey will be like, what destinations we will pass and, crucially, what does it mean for me as an individual and as a team?

3) The Strategist

The Strategist has a plan to engage every person in his team or under his influence. He knows who his talent is and he has a retention and development plan for each of them. The Strategist is the logical, rational part of being a manager that takes intention about engagement and makes it a reality.

4) The Coach

As a coach, a manager understands what makes the individual’s heart beat. She works with that knowledge and helps them grow and deliver more value. This is a deep and meaningful part of being an engaging manager and, as such, is exceptionally rewarding. Let us remember that, at its core, engagement comes from treating people as individuals and a coach has an amazing opportunity to ensure people feel their own needs are being met and valued.

5) The Pilot

The goal of the Pilot is to be the respected role model, the ‘parental’ adult with one hand on the tiller. The Pilot is the measured, calm component of being a manager. Solid and trusting, she can mindfully balance the need to be authoritative and when to be facilitative.

This role is where personal style becomes most evident, the way in which the Pilot goes about her everyday role of engaging and supporting others. It requires a high level of self-awareness and recognising weaknesses and blind-spots, as well as knowing your strengths and preferences. We judge ourselves by our intentions yet we judge others by their behaviour. For the successful Pilot then, it is important that our behaviour and values properly display our intentions.

*Jane Sparrow runs a management and leadership consultancy and will be writing regularly for Her book The Culture Builders is out on 30th September and can be pre-ordered on Amazon now. Check out Jane’s blog here – it has tips and advice for managers and her website has tools, including video footage of leadership role models.  Picture credit: KROMKRATHOG and

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