Leading a team into 2013

Management and leadership consultant Jane Sparrow gives managers some advice on how to motivate the team after the Christmas break.

Christmas and the festivities may be over, but keeping the season of goodwill going with your team will have a huge influence on how engaged and motivated they feel in 2013. January is all about new beginnings, but it can be hard for staff to get back into the swing of things after the break. So, as manager, your task is to re-focus your team and help people feel re-connected and ready for the month ahead as quickly as possible.

Here are my five steps to boosting your team and getting January off to a flying start, focusing on the key roles I have identified as critical for managers-as engagers (Prophet, Storyteller, Strategist, Coach and Pilot).

1) First, book a team breakfast or lunch (or virtual meeting if needs be) to bring everyone together on the first days back at work. Deliberately allow plenty of time for the informal chat and important bonding that allows your team to know each other as people and not just colleagues. Be interested in what people choose to share with you and be willing to be open, too. Store up any insights and snippets they share with you and think about how you could use this to help formulate your engagement plan for them. For example, someone might reveal they worked for a charity on Christmas day. Once you’re happy people have had a good chance to catch up and share their festive stories, you can then start to focus people on their work.

2) Be the Prophet and reflect on the company’s vision for the future and what it seeks to achieve in 2013. Think about what the company vision and aspiration means for you personally and how it fits with your own sense of purpose and the values you hold dear. Remind yourself of what you enjoy about work and where you get your energy from. How can you spend more time doing what you love in 2013?

3) Once you’re confident about your own engagement levels, you’re in a great position to influence other’s engagement! Be their Prophet and outline your hopes and dreams for them as a team and why you believe they will be successful. Keep future focused and really positive with assertive and positive language. This is a galvanising role and one that can help spur people into action.

4) Once you are clear about the future and direction (Prophet), you need to provide some of the detail and colouring-in about what that future journey is going to look and feel like. This is your time to become the Storyteller and make the journey as meaningful and relevant as possible. Use insights you’ve gleaned from your own personal reflections to help build the story. And don’t forget to include some emotion too – hard fact and figures won’t be remembered as well as a story that connects with the audience. Analogies are also a great way to help people imagine and remember important concepts and issues around your story.

5) Finally, your role now is to be the Strategist and ensure that all those hopes and plans for engaging your team in 2013 actually happen! Book a one-to-one with every team member to discuss their personal development and plans for the year ahead. This will set the tone for what you expect and hope to see in terms of performance from your team and it will position you as a truly engaging manager who has used all your insight to make a plan that is personalised to them and reflects their unique levers for engagement.

Good luck and happy 2013!

*Jane Sparrow runs a management and leadership consultancy and is author of The Culture Builders. 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.

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