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Frances Ferguson

Glasstap Ltd

Training Design Manager

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Running a Team


One of my favourite things about my job is that there is no end to the experiences that demonstrate ways that I can do it better. Last weekend was no exception. That said, I would prefer it if these experiences did not often involve a 6am alarm call on a Sunday morning...

So why did my alarm go off quite so early on a Sunday I hear you cry? Well I had volunteered to assist at our local half marathon and was allocated the role of “Rewards Marshall” AKA medal bestower & goody bag giver-outer. It sounded like a marvellous job; I’d get the pleasure of saying “well done” to the runners AND it didn’t seem like a job that needed me to arrive too early in the morning.

But then came the shock: apparently a Rewards Marshall needs to be a very early bird indeed! And that is why, last Sunday, I found myself at 7am sitting around a table with a posse a similarly bleary eyed volunteers.

After a bacon butty and a warm cup of tea we were collected by Gary, our ‘manager’ for the event. Before he briefed us on our jobs he gave a heartfelt speech of thanks for all our hard work during the course of the day. His reason for thanking us? He knew how busy we would all be, he was sure that we would all work incredibly hard and he wanted to make sure that he had personally said thank you to us for everything that we were about to do!

With that, he did indeed keep us very busy; from herding runners into their correct starting pens, to collecting all the myriad of clothes left behind at the starting line and prepping the finish line so that thousands of tired runners could be swiftly funnelled through to collect their medals, a much needed bottle of water, an energy replenishing snack and their goody bags as a reward for running 13.1 miles.

It was manic, fun manic, but manic nonetheless. We didn’t stop working, for 6 solid hours. In rain, wind and shine our job was to get everything ready and then to be the smiling person congratulating each and every runner on their achievement. It was hard work, but you couldn’t help but enjoy spending time with this happy tide of relieved, proud and ecstatic runners swarming in at the end of their race.

Three hours after the first runner had crossed the finishing line, that tide of humanity was but a tiny trickle and the cheering spectators had long since headed home. We were all now tired, cold, wet and thinking about our own long overdue lunch.

But then our manager, Gary, who had been working alongside us like a Trojan, gathered us together to say that there were still a handful of runners out on the course and, with no one left to cheer them on, wouldn’t it be brilliant if as many of us as possible could stay on and give them a rousing reception?

We were all volunteers, there was nothing to stop us from leaving (and the rather persistent rain was giving us plenty of reason to want to). But by giving us a powerful reason to want to stay, every single person did. And each & every one of those final 10 runners who crossed the finishing line over the next 40 minutes got a very loud and enthusiastic welcome to help them feel very special indeed.

As I headed home, rather cold and wet, I couldn’t help but think that it was a very powerful reminder of the importance of taking opportunities to say thank you to our team (as Gary did at the start of the day), role modelling the behaviours we want our team to demonstrate and giving people a reason ‘why’ (even if we don’t significantly benefit personally) to encourage us all to go the extra mile.

Whisper it quietly, but it was definitely worth the early start to be given such an amazing reminder of what great leadership looks like J

Author Profile Picture
Frances Ferguson

Training Design Manager

Read more from Frances Ferguson

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