Making a difference as a Manager…

“Every day he gives you little bits of advice and makes you think. When you believe in a manager it is always really important. You listen to him all the time. He has opened our mind to doing things differently.”

Lucas Leiva talking about the impact Kenny Dalglish has had in the short term back as Liverpool manager.

Roberto Martinez, the Wigan Athletic manager, whose side played Liverpool for the second time this season identified one crucial factor that set aside Dalglish’s Liverpool from that managed by Roy Hodgson earlier in the season;

“Belief, that’s the difference. You can see this Liverpool side plays with huge belief.”

Apart from swapping Suarez for Torres these are the same players, so how had Dalglish managed to turn round the attitude in such a short space of time?

If you listen to what Dalglish has had to say to the media since taking over the message has been a consistent one. He is delighted to be managing great players, none of whom are more important than the next player and they have the honour of playing for a fantastic club. He is confident they can produce the results that are required and his main focus is putting the fun back into training.

He has concentrated on emphasising players strengths, reminding them what they are good at and encouraging them to come up with solutions themselves. He has handed responsibility for what happens on the pitch to the players and you can see in the performances that the players have risen to that challenge and started to play to their potential.

As Lucas indicates in his comments this demonstration of belief in the players has encouraged them to view situations from different perspectives and to seek different ways of achieving their objectives. This is a classic example of how coaching people on their strengths can lead to improvements in other areas that need attention.

As a team Liverpool are much stronger defensively and they have been more open to the ideas introduced by the coaches such as Steve Clarke because they are in a positive frame of mind and believe they can and want to improve their performance.

When working with managers in business too often you see them trying to “catch people doing something wrong” and this merely serves to create a climate of fear, where people are more worried about making mistakes than they are in stretching themselves. This narrows the mind and leads to reduced creativity thus making it more difficult to envisage positive solutions to difficult situations.

Looking to catch people doing something well instead can lead to a far more positive culture at work with a happy and inspired workforce. How can you do this? Here are 5 steps you could introduce today:

1) Ask your people what they enjoy about their jobs.

2) Ask your people what they would like to improve about their jobs – and if possible make changes to improve this situation.

3) Can you describe how what they do contributes to the team’s goals?

4) Remind them how important and valuable their role is in achieving team goals.

5) When they do something well, tell them and thank them.

I was working with a group of sales managers recently and encouraged them to think about the steps above. At our next meeting I asked them if they had been able to implement some of these steps into their daily routine. Brian, one of the more experienced managers, told me about an update he had completed with Sally, one of his team, who had a reputation for being demanding and impatient with other departments within the company. He had received another complaint about her and in the past he would have read her the riot act and sent her way with a flea in her ear. This time he had talked to her about how much he valued her contribution to the team and how her customers were always happy with the service she provided and explained how he was puzzled that she didn’t seem to have a similar relationship with people inside the company. Sally replied that she felt she needed to chase other departments to make sure she maintained a high quality service to her clients, but eventually agreed that perhaps this wasn’t the best way to go about it.

A few days later Brian was surprised to receive two phone calls from senior managers of other departments within the company to tell him how they had noticed a real change in behaviour in Sally and asking him for the secret! When Brian fed this praise back to Sally he could see a visible change in her posture as she revelled in the praise and recognition. Brian was also delighted to see such a quick turnaround after a relatively simple change in approach to his conversation with Sally.

Dalglish has managed to achieve the same with the Liverpool team with a different emphasis in approach  and outlook. Lucas Leiva has talked about it and so has Steven Gerrard:

“the last three or four weeks have been really positive. We’ve had some good results. The lads are smiling again. I’ve actually enjoyed going to work again.”

Do your people enjoy going to work, and if not why not? What can you change to improve the culture at work?


Coach Potatoes is the blog for the people at The Coach Business.

At The Coach Business we specialise in providing valuable effective coaching to management teams at all levels in both the public and private sector. Our experience in based on over 20 years of managing, coaching and developing people in a Blue Chip environment and our goal is to achieve tangible improvements in performance for our clients. If you have an issue you would like to discuss or are seeking advice please contact us at for further information or to arrange an initial consultation.

This entry was posted in Motivation and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.