Are You Giving Your Front-​line Managers The Right Kind of Support?

BY Kathy Crosett
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The success of many organizations rests on the shoulders of front-​line managers. These managers ensure that team members are getting the job done, whether it’s handling customer service calls or cleaning an office building. These employees often become managers because they are the best producers in their departments. Promoting these folks into a management role doesn’t mean they’ll automatically make great team leaders. If your company doesn’t provide the right type of support to these new managers, they’re risking a huge failure.

A Boston Consulting Group report finds that front-​line managers “make up or influence 80% of the workforce,” but “receive only 20% to 30% of a typical company’s leadership development efforts.” Some front-​line managers might need traditional training. For example, extra work on communication skills can be key for a manager who’s lacking in that area. But, the bigger challenge is the need to deliver training to help managers effectively deal with the problems they’ll encounter on a daily basis. What should your new manager do when one of the customer service reps gets emotional and hangs up on an angry caller? What should the new cleaning crew manager do when his longest-​serving employee is threatening to quit if he can’t change the process for mopping the floors?

BCG analysts recommend that senior managers establish a system specifically for training new front-​line managers. After reviewing the expected work schedule – the activities that must be completed on a daily or weekly basis with the team members — successful companies match a new manager with a star manager. Shadowing an experienced star manager for a morning each week, over a period of a couple of months, shows the new manager how to handle problems that arise on the job. Time management apps also help new managers learn how to allocate the hours in their workday. Instead of doing the work they’re accustomed to, they need to be coaching team members who need help and they should be anticipating problems that might arise.

Senior managers should also adhere to the principles they’re preaching. If your senior team has determined that one on one coaching is key to the company’s success, make sure that you are all walking the floor, asking about problems and offering solutions on a regular basis. There’s no substitute for personalized support. In the long run, that kind of support builds loyalty and strengthens teams.