4 great line management hacks that you can implement today

If you want to improve performance across your teams right now, then here are four great line management hacks that you can start using instantly.

Petru Tinca • 
4 great line management hacks that you can implement today

Line managers may be the unsung heroes of the corporate world: we know all about the sales and technology rockstars and their impact on corporate success, and this should be rightly applauded. But, as an aggregate force, line managers make an extraordinary impact on corporate performance too. There just isn’t the same mainstream awareness of this.

For example, a recent study of 50,000 employees by Inpulse revealed that 81% of those employees who felt trusted and supported by their line managers were engaged, compared to 28% percent of employees who didn’t feel trusted.

Without great line management, most employees will struggle to reach their full potential.

HR professionals have a vital role to play in enhancing line manager performance in their organisation. So, we identified 4 great line management hacks that can quickly improve the quality of people management in your business today.

1. Engendering trust to boost engagement

The Inpulse survey referenced above found that ‘feeling trusted and supported’ by line managers had the biggest impact on how engaged your employees are likely to be.

Gemma McCall, an expert commentator on that article, offered some practical advice, (which we broadly agree with), to line managers to engender trust in their subordinates:

‘Empower your employees by encouraging a speak-up culture, which breaks down barriers and creates a safe space to share issues, should they arise. It is important not to forget that line managers are in a unique position to listen to colleagues and implement real change for the whole team to benefit from.’

2. Remove the fear of failure to build initiative

After studying 46 years of data relating to capital start-up investments, researchers revealed in the Scientific American that, (as long as lessons were learned from it), failure was an essential prerequisite for success, and just as important as hard work, creativity, and effectiveness.

If our line managers are anxious about failure and become angry when faced with subordinate initiative, (or initiative gone wrong), over time the subordinate team will become more risk-averse and cautious. If an organisation wants to encourage initiative and risk-taking, line managers should be encouraged to showcase and recognise initiative in their subordinates, even if it does result in failure, (of course making sure to highlight lessons learned).

3. Encourage exercise to boost productivity

There is evidence to suggest that exercise done in the morning before work or during work hours can boost performance.  A Leeds Metropolitan University study looked at over 200 employees in a range of companies and found that on a day that employees visited the gym, they reported, ‘managing their time more effectively, being more productive, and having smoother interactions with their colleagues, and going home feeling more satisfied at the end of the day.’

This is a pretty straightforward hack: line managers can support and encourage exercise by allowing their employees the flexibility to attend gyms before or during work. Lunch-time runs can be an alternative for those not blessed with an easily accessible gym.

Line managers could encourage greater participation by gamifying exercise by setting up a monthly exercise challenge on Strava or Fitbit etc., with an award for the employee who does the most steps or miles. It doesn’t have to be that competitive and the reward could simply be for achieving a socially recognised activity goal.

With the help of HR, a cross-team challenge could be established which compares the aggregated activity of teams against each on a leaderboard, again with an award for the winner. This could be a team building exercise too.

4. Saying thank you to motivate and retain

This is a powerful hack with perhaps one of the highest returns on investment of any of these hacks. Research from Workhuman which polled 3,500 workers in the US, UK and Ireland found that,

  • Workers thanked and recognised for their work are half as likely to be looking for a new job (26% versus 49%)
  • Thanked employees are twice as likely to be highly engaged at work (60% versus 32%)
  • Employees who feel recognised are three times as likely to think their work has meaning and purpose (53% versus 18%)
  • And employees who feel recognised also report being happier at work (47% versus 11%)

By building a culture of expressing gratitude for the good things that employees do line managers can boost team performance. It’s not just about congratulating the team trail-blazers, gratitude should reach all corners of the organisation chart too: be sure to thank the administrator who came in early to help with some work at short notice and helped the team meet a deadline for a key project.

So, have we missed anything? Are there any great line management hacks that you have in your locker that you’d like to share with us and our audience? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below.