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How To Bring Your A-Game To Work: Alison Grainger

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It takes great leadership to build great teams. Successfully managing a group of employees requires a keen understanding of strengths and weaknesses. Jillian Bolger asks six business leaders how they get everyone to bring their A-game to work.

ALISON GRAINGER, HEAD OF IRELAND AND THE NORTH DIVISION, MARKS & SPENCER

Starting as a management trainee straight out of school, Alison Grainger has been working for Marks & Spencer for 27 years. Running the Irish division since 2014, the North division was subsequently merged under her remit.

HOW DO YOU MOTIVATE TEAM MEMBERS?

It’s vital to inspire your team to believe in the direction you want to take them and to share with them a vision of where you are going. I believe in celebrating our trophies and recognising and rewarding hard work. It is also important to balance working hard with having some fun.

HOW DO YOU HANDLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN YOUR TEAMMATES?

A strong team is a diverse team, so it is important to get them to understand and value what every member brings to the table. I encourage feedback, so believe in always having an open dialogue.

HOW DO YOU ENSURE EVERYONE IS PULLING THEIR WEIGHT? 

When you allow the team to work with you to set the commitments, everyone is more invested in pulling together to deliver on the task. The team pressurises each other to ensure everyone is working as hard as they can to achieve the desired outcome.

MEETINGS – A WASTE OF TIME OR ESSENTIAL TO PRODUCTIVITY?

I think meetings are essential to sharing common purpose and goals. They are an opportunity to share best practice and build team spirit, which I believe drives productivity.

WHAT’S YOUR WORK WARDROBE?

I like simple, modern, clean-cut lines, but equally something that’s easy to pack. I always wear M&S. Outside of work, I tend to mix a little bit more, but there’s always going to be M&S underwear in there!

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