DiBona & Associates
DiBona & Associates

Where Frontline Managers Are Falling Short

23.06.22 03:00 PM By Noel DiBona

Are Your Frontline Managers On-Target?

Frontline workers are leaving companies by the droves and these jobs cannot be filled by remote staff. They are the heartbeat of the organization. Frontline workers work in hospital emergency care units, on the plant floor, or in the warehouse, for example. It is wherever businesses generate their revenue.

These deskless jobs, as we call them, are mostly in manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, health care, hospitality, and retail. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found one of the biggest reasons frontline workers are ditching their jobs has to do with their relationship with their frontline manager.

Frontline managers are a critical part of any business and yet they are sorely overlooked. In most companies, frontline managers make up approximately 60% of the overall management team. These managers are frequently in the early stages of their careers. They were typically recognized as being top contributors and are now having to manage frontline workers that are under lots of pressure in today’s work environment. It’s not an easy job.

Given that frontline managers directly supervise about 80% of the workforce in most companies, they will have a huge financial impact on the overall business.

One of the biggest issues we find with frontline managers is that they lack critical skills that results in unnecessary friction. Friction builds, first in small increments. However, over time, this friction will break down teams and workers will leave the company. Presently, there is a lot of turnover in many companies as a result of poor frontline leadership.

There is a lot at stake when you consider the direct and indirect losses in productivity with a disengaged workforce, and the replacement cost when they finally quit. It is a tremendous burden on the company. We call this the people tax. And this people tax results in missing your team KPIs and can even compromise the company from achieving its overall strategic business goals.

Key root causes of failing frontline managers
After studying successful frontline managers over the course of the last 20 years, we’ve found the following differences:
      • Successful frontline managers spend upwards of 80% of their time working directly with their team and removing barriers that get in the way of the timely completion of work.
      • Successful frontline managers make their teammates feel like their opinions are important. They actively listen and use open-ended questions to guide their teammates to brainstorming practical solutions.
      • Successful frontline managers build strong teams that help one another and that rely on individual strengths as well as the collective strengths of the team. They simply get things done.
      • Successful frontline managers fix issues when they see something that isn’t right.

The solution – Frontline Manager Bootcamp
We equip frontline managers with the necessary skills that allow them to flourish in their supervisory role and tremendously increase the engagement of their teams.

A four-step process:
      1. Administer The Predictive Index Behavioral Assessment. We work one-on-one with frontline managers, so they gain insight into their natural workstyle – how they approach their work. How they make decisions, solve problems, and resolve conflict. They also get an understanding of their blind spots. Every strength has a corresponding blind spot. Their newfound self-awareness allows them to have a more accurate understanding of how they’re perceived by their team. This is an essential building block to successfully lead frontline workers.
      2. Analyze the team. Allow the leader to understand the attributes of each core-team member and how communications can be improved. Just like individuals, a team exhibits a certain dynamic and we equip the frontline manager with a greater understanding of their team. We do this by characterizing the team type. Each team type has a unique set of blind spots that are just under the surface and can derail the team without realizing it. We want the frontline manager to understand their team dynamic so they can anticipate issues between people that are working closely together. We also calibrate the way in which the frontline supervisor manages each individual by getting them to understand the needs and drives of teammates, so each frontline work is given some flexibility in how they approach their work. This increases the engagement of the frontline worker because their individual drives are satisfied. Unsuccessful frontline managers overly prescribe how work gets done and this stifles the team.
      3. We provide two additional modules of training, effective communication, and resolving conflict. This training is practical hands-on learning that emphasizes intensive peer-to-peer training exercises and the application of these concepts in regularly scheduled assignments that quickly yield results in their actual jobs. The goal of this training is to create opportunities for the frontline manager to expand their sphere of influence and give them more control over their jobs. Frequently, they didn’t realize how much control they can assert of their present circumstances. More control leads to them being more fulfilled in their jobs and that also trickles down to their teammates. Each training subject consists of three 90-minute sessions spaced two weeks apart to provide enough time to complete hands-on assignments.
      4. Each frontline manager develops a leadership action plan working closely with their boss. This plan is reviewed quarterly and becomes the blueprint for getting to the next stage of leadership development.

This boot camp is an intensive 1-year program that begins yielding results within the first 30 days.

If you are a frontline manager or have frontline managers reporting to you and are overcome with a disengaged frontline workforce or too much turnover, consider some form of structured training for your team.

Top Ten Percent Leaders affirm their belief that people are the most important asset of the company through action, not just talk.