Creating dedicated teams where everyone is working towards the same goal. Mikael Lingstadaas, workshop manager at public transport operator Arriva, reckons this is any manager’s most important job. Good communication and engaging leadership are the key to success.
Staff who enjoy their work create the best conditions for good performance. Mikael Lingstadaas is absolutely convinced of this. He’s a workshop manager at Arriva, one of Europe’s top public transport operators, and heads a team of 42 staff who are responsible for servicing many of the buses that serve the Stockholm area.
“A dedicated workforce is essential. Especially in this industry. We work in public transport, so we need to constantly be on our toes and do a good job so that we can be sure our buses are safe and ready on time”
– Mikael Lingstaads, workshop manager at Arriva
A different kind of leadership
Mikael Lingstadaas doesn’t just head a big team. His staff are also scattered over three sites – in Åkersberga, Vallentuna and Täby – and work a three-shift pattern. How do you manage to head such a large team scattered over so wide an area?
“It’s pretty challenging, and it needs a different kind of leadership. I used to work in the construction industry and headed a team on a specific site. Now I have staff working a three-shift pattern in three different areas. I need to make sure that each shift has a supervisor, and I have a really strong management team working out on the sites. Continuous and clear communication is important, too,” reckons Mikael Lingstadaas.
Responsiveness creates dedicated teams
Listening to your staff and being responsive to their wishes and suggestions for improvement is important,” says Mikael Lingstadaas, but a little sensitivity is required as well.
“Dedicated staff members are a major asset that needs to be managed effectively, but a lot of people have requests and things they want to see implemented. We can’t run with everything, but I think it’s always vital to listen and explain what we can and can’t do – and why. Being constructive and clear in your leadership is crucial, especially when you’re communicating with a group of people,” he says.
Engage your team via Flourish
Mikael and his team tried out Flourish over six months as a faster way of communicating with one another, engaging the team and gathering feedback. The option of collating feedback through existing channels such as Teams, Slack or Facebook Messenger facilitated implementation.
“This is a good, state-of-the-art way of reaching out to the whole team, giving me the opportunity to ask specific questions and gauge how staff are feeling about their working day and find out what can be improved on,” says Mikael Lingstadaas.
This approach was designed to suit the team and their day-to-day work.
“We worked together in the management team to plan what kind of questions we wanted our staff to receive. We sent out the questions on Thursdays and then reviewed and responded to the feedback the following week. If I received a number of views relating to the same issue, I could then run an action. We then presented that at a larger meeting the following Monday,” says Mikael Lingstadaas.
Actions with a quick payoff
A number of metrics such as performance, feedback and cooperation improved while the team was testing Flourish. A few suggestions for improvement also had a rapid impact. For instance, it turned out that staff felt the physical work environment was being adversely affected by the fact that the buses were really dirty underneath, and they called for proper cleaning of the chassis in order to provide a better work environment and make the buses more durable.
“We asked people ‘how much have you enjoyed your job over the last week?’. We received a lot of feedback that saying that the chassis need to be cleaned thoroughly because all the dirt that accumulates there makes working under the bus difficult. And so we took action to sort this out,” says Mikael Lingstadaas.
A campaign was launched which involved thorough pressure washing of the undersides of all the buses – and the response from staff was very positive.
Focusing on people and teams
Mikael Lingstadaas has focused on people and teams since he was a child, but becoming a manager has never been an end in itself.
“It’s probably emerged over the years. I’ve found I’m good at leading people, and getting along with people comes easily to me. Being part of a team has always been important to me,” he says.
He notes there are a number of links between leadership and team sports. Besides being a manager, Mikael Lingstadaas is also a handball player for a team in the Allsvenskan league, and he’s been involved in team sports since he was a child.
“You have to be united as a team if you’re going to perform well. This is true both in sport and in business,” he reckons.
This can be particularly challenging in industries where staff members are scattered, both geographically and in terms of time. That’s where he believes Flourish is a particularly important tool to have.
“Having a way to communicate with one another quickly and easily and pick up on what staff want is extremely valuable in industries like ours,” says Mikael Lingstadaas.