At this time of year,
when companies are lining up for the fourth quarter push to the annual
fiscal goal line, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at
our front-line managers. These are the people actually doing the
blocking and tackling and customer interface to make the plays called
in from the sidelines by management happen.
It is interesting that
these front-line managers are frequently newly recruited from the ranks
of the people they are managing. In their prior roles, they did such a
good job that they got themselves promoted. However, very few have had
prior management experience and most get little or no management
training. What training they do get tends to focus on numbers, reports
and being the conduit by which directives from management are passed on
to the workers without passing through the mind of anyone.
In many cases, these
front-line managers are expected to "sink or swim." Old line thinking
was that the "cream would rise to the top." In today's world with much
higher expectations, productivity, competition and tighter deadlines,
that is a very expensive and flawed management approach. Mere exposure
to the thoughts and directives of senior management will not
necessarily help these front-line managers, at least in their immediate
and pressing need of getting the people they now manage and are
responsible for to meet their targets whether in manufacturing, sales
or customer service.
Many new managers get
wrapped around the axle with administrative details, reports and
meetings. They also tend to think that they must do everything
themselves because they have not yet made the transition to the
delegation and motivational role of managers. What they really need to
do is communicate effectively with their new reports; to understand and
address their issues and concerns; and, to get them engaged in, and
committed to, the goals of the company.
How do they do this? By
treating their people as human beings keeping in mind the insights of
Dale Carnegie, namely that people are creatures of emotion. Developing
an understanding of this aspect of human nature will allow front-line
managers to lead, motivate and engage their people rather than just
passing down directives from the top and passing up reports on
performance from below.
It is, after all, the
front-line workers who determine the quality of the products they make
or who have the direct day-to-day contact with customers. It is these
areas which are critical to the ultimate success of the company
regardless of what brilliant strategies and plans may be devised by
senior management. Unless those plans and strategies can be effectively
conveyed to, and implemented by, the front-line workers who are led,
managed and motivated by the front-line managers, there will be little
or no successful change and improvement in performance. Without that,
in today's competitive marketplace, a company cannot long survive.
The conclusion must be
that the development and training of front-line managers in how to
lead, engage and motivate their direct reports is critical to a
company's success. We here at Augur would be pleased to show you the
simple, objective methods we teach managers at all levels on how to
understand their co-workers from a leadership, motivational and
engagement perspective to reduce turnover, increase productivity and
improve bottom-line results.
Good luck to you all in
the fourth quarter!
Kathleen P. Frank
Copyright Kathleen Frank