The quality of frontline leadership can make or break your company.
According to the Gallup organization, the frontline leader is the key to attracting and retaining talented employees. Frontline leaders typically make up 50-60% of an organization’s managerial ranks and directly supervise up to 80% of the workforce. Frontline managers are at the center of everything that’s going on within your organization and they have an enormous impact on your success.
The reality is a lot of people get promoted into management because they’re good workers and they get results, but they don’t have the foundational skills and mindsets to be effective. Unfortunately, most frontline leaders are unprepared for the job. Lack of training is common and frontline managers are thrown in and left on their own to figure it out – few people have a natural skill for getting work done through others.
In this Level UP leadership series, we’ll look at the process of moving from individual contributor to frontline manager, the many key transitions that are essential for an employee to move into management, and the differences between managing and leading.
One of the first transitions for a new leader is to move beyond an individual productivity mindset to an influencing mindset. A frontline manager with an influencing mindset understands that they are no longer responsible for merely their own output and productivity, but instead must leverage the power of an entire team to accomplish a goal for the company.
Managers need to learn what to START doing and what to STOP doing. They should shift their mindset when it comes to their relationships, and how they get results. One of the biggest challenges can be shifting from “buddy to boss” and all that is involved in making that change.
Things new leaders need to start doing:
- Find job satisfaction from developing others on their team
- Manage the performance and motivation of direct reports by:
- Providing them with the opportunity to do what they do best every day
- Ensuring they know what is expected of them at work
- Ensuring employees have the materials and equipment they need to do their work
- Providing them with adequate training
- Giving performance feedback and recognition for work well done
- Taking time to get to know the members of your team individually
- Demonstrating to employees that you care about them as individuals
- Encouraging the development of your people
- Build relationships with other managers and staff by communicating more, and keeping all stakeholders informed
Spend more time on planning by:
- Seeking out and considering all stakeholder needs when making decisions
- Thinking about the long-term implications of decisions
- Manage upwards by:
- Communicating the needs of your employees to your supervisor
- Proactively making suggestions for change/improvement
Things new leaders need to let go of:
- Doing the work themselves or trying to directly control everything or always be right
- Trying to hold onto the role of the technical expert
- Being part of the gang
- Being critical of management – YOU are management now!
Moving into management can be exciting and bring many changes that can be simultaneously good and challenging.
Here are some important things to keep in mind as you make this transition:
- Learn about the communication styles of your team members
- Ask others for input, feedback, help, and ideas when working on a project
- Understand your own strengths and the strengths of your team members, and delegate tasks accordingly
- Accept that mistakes are inevitable and handle mistakes with grace and humility
- Offer praise and encouragement at least as often as you offer constructive criticism
- Be quick to listen and learn from others
To excel, leaders need to effectively communicate, coach, show empathy, build trust, influence, resolve conflict, and more. Through our Level UP frontline leader program, we help to develop these leadership skills so your leaders can engage their teams and deliver results. We’ve helped hundreds of leaders hone their skills and excel at leadership–and we want to see your company and team do the same. You can learn more about our services and what Level UP Leadership looks like by visiting our website, booking a coaching call, reaching out to us, and continuing to follow us on the blog and our social media.
In our next blog in this series we’ll tackle the subject of delegation with practical tips on the dos and don’ts and a useful tool to help leaders effectively delegate work to others. Stay tuned!