Alison Grieve of Management Dynamics On 5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team

Authority Magazine Editorial Staff
Authority Magazine
Published in
8 min readOct 24, 2023

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Encourage people to get to know each other and understand the similarities and differences. Continually having moments where something new is learned about each other builds relationships and connections. Teams are our work community and are critical to our resilience. Knowing each other well creates a safe space where team members can share mistakes, failures and lessons learned. It’s where people can ask for help and also where the team looks out for each other.

As a part of our series about the five things you need to successfully manage a large team, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alison Grieve.

Alison Grieve works with leaders and their teams in organisations of all sizes to help transform company culture and create differentiated performance. She trains professional coaches and facilitators in the art and science of team coaching, sharing her extensive practical experience and knowledge. She is an author of the best-selling book Leading Edge: Strategies for developing and sustaining high-performing teams and co-hosts the regular podcast on leading high performing teams: The Edge. She regularly appears as a keynote speaker and guest on podcasts & webinars. She won two awards in 2023, and four in 2022 including the STEVIE’s Women in Business Award for Company of the Year and Best Leadership Solution Provider of the Year for the last two years in a row.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?

I started working in a large multinational and loved collaborating with teams of diverse nationalities, cultures, and experiences from all around the world. I was fortunate to work in an organization where good management skills were critical for success as a manager. I witnessed and experienced the profound impact of excellent talent management and leadership practices on individuals and was eager to share my experiences with other companies. I am passionate about teams and enabling them to unlock their full potential. Individuals thrive in high-performing teams, and witnessing the results, either through the leaders I work with or within the team itself, is truly rewarding and brightens my day.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

I was working in Beijing and was asked if I would like to participate in a team-building experience on the Great Wall of China. Naturally, I said yes. I rallied a few other colleagues, and we drove a couple of hours out of the city to a small house where we enjoyed an amazing dinner at the foot of the wall. Later, we were provided with sleeping bags, and we climbed up the wall, located a turret, and settled in for the night. The excitement made it difficult for me to sleep. The night was clear, free from pollution, and the stars sparkled brightly. I felt a part of something ancient, universal, and somewhat insignificant. Watching the sunrise the following morning, with no one around except us, was a glorious experience. The next day, we strolled along the wall to the next town. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I arrived to run a leadership workshop and my suitcase did not arrive. The venue was in the middle of the countryside and there were no shops nearby. I ended up borrowing clothes from the participants for the week. My case arrived after 4 days in time for the last day. I learned that people are generous and kind and will even share their favourite clothes. I also learned to travel with hand luggage and always have all I need with me!

Ok, let’s jump to the core of our interview. Most times when people quit their jobs they actually “quit their managers”. What are your thoughts on the best way to retain great talent today?

The best way to retain great talent today is to take a multifaceted approach which goes beyond salary and benefits packages. Firstly, create a positive work culture which is supportive, inclusive and diverse where employees feel valued and respected.

Secondly, people need a strong sense of purpose to be fully motivated. When people understand how their work contributes to the larger purpose of the organisation they are more likely to stay committed and engaged.

Thirdly, build a sense of community and belonging through developing high performing teams. When you are part of a high performing team you are part of something special. You are supported, can collaborate and grow and achieve much more than on your own. People like to stay in high performing teams.

Finally, provide good management and talent practices enabling people to grow, develop and get feedback regularly on how they are performing and give support on how to develop in the future.

In essence the best way to retain people today involves a holistic approach which focuses on developing high performing teams where people have a strong sense of purpose, and belonging, develop themselves and achieve amazing results.

How do you synchronize large teams to effectively work together?

Enabling collaboration across large teams requires a blend of communication, organisation and technology. Clarity is crucial. Everyone needs to be clear on the teams’ purpose, their own role within the team and what they are expected to deliver as well as what others on the team are accountable for. Everyone needs to understand how their results contribute to the larger purpose and how they connect with others. Create a sense of team unity by ensuring appropriate routines for decision-making, meetings and communication are established and maintained. Relationships need to be nurtured so that people can connect, be included and valued. Enable a culture of psychological safety so that people can speak up and share their views without offending others. Foster a collaborative mindset by focusing on the “WE” rather than “ME” in the team. By combining these elements large teams can synchronise their efforts and achieve shared objectives.

Here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your personal experience, what are the “5 Things You Need To Know To Successfully Manage a Team”. (Please share a story or example for each, Ideally an example from your experience)

There are 5 key principles I believe will help people successfully manage a team.

First remember that teams are complex and dynamic. This means that the task is never-ending. Plan routines to focus on the team moving forward, pick up on small changes and adjust accordingly. In my team we have short check-in meetings at the beginning and end of the week and 6 weekly team meetings. We mix them up with face to face and virtual. If people are getting bored in a meeting or feel they are wasting their time, then change the routine.

Second create a strong team purpose. This is the glue that holds the team together. It should connect with everyone in the team and the team needs to be included in its creation. It needs to be motivating and inspirational and align with the organisation’s expectations of the team. I was talking to a leader who said that they had a team mission, but he could not remember it. That’s a sign it’s not working. It should be brief, memorable, and inspirational to everyone in the team.

Thirdly empower and delegate to the team appropriately. Provide clarity on what is important, who is doing what and how success and progress will be measured. We create ‘Big Whats’ for our team and we have 5 with key measures assigned to each. It enables the team to see where their work fits and identify who to collaborate with. The team can see how to hold each other accountable.

Review workload and development frequently. Monitor workload and encourage team members to support each other when there is high workload. We review it weekly at our Monday check in by using a traffic light system. Everyone in the team should have some development activity where they are working on a project or task which is challenging them, and they are learning new skills or knowledge or both. Team members can support each other in the development activities. Team members can be encouraged to support each other’s growth.

Finally encourage people to get to know each other and understand the similarities and differences. Continually having moments where something new is learned about each other builds relationships and connections. Teams are our work community and are critical to our resilience. Knowing each other well creates a safe space where team members can share mistakes, failures and lessons learned. It’s where people can ask for help and also where the team looks out for each other.

Following these 5 principles will support a team to high performance, increased engagement and motivation.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Prioritise a supportive work environment and ensure that all leaders and managers are skilled in how to lead teams effectively and provide them with the tools to do this. This will encourage open communication, build engagement and foster a strong sense of belonging. Ensure everyone has clarity about what is expected of them and others in the team and knows how they will be measured. Invest in everyone’s growth and development. Recognise and appreciate employees’ contributions. Empower everyone to voice ideas and share opinions and cultivate a culture of innovation and inclusion.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I firmly believe that teams can accomplish far more than they currently do. Often teams are proficient, yet they do not fully harness the potential of individuals or the collective strength they possess. There’s immense untapped potential to work smarter, enabling people to truly flourish, feel empowered and achieve remarkable outcomes. I aspire to witness more individuals unlocking the potential of their teams, experiencing the transformative impact it brings to everyone involved.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. I loved this quote the first time I heard it over 30 years ago. It resonated so strongly. It has challenged me to continue to grow, develop and be the best version of myself.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Follow me on

WWW.Management-Dynamics.com

Thank you for these great insights, and for the time you spent on this. We wish you continued success.

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