According to businessdictionary.com, the frontline manager is, “the first or second managers directly responsible for production of goods and services, and supervision of clerical staff and shop floor employees.” Frontline managers are often considered responsible for the day-to-day operations and critical processes to run a store location. These managers often lead and organize the rest of the onsite staff.
Despite how essential frontline managers are to the success of retail and hospitality businesses, they are not always considered during strategic planning. However, frontline managers are one of your most valuable assets because they impact nearly every aspect of a nondesk business.
Frontline Managers play a key role in:
How to Empower Frontline Managers
When surveying businesses to find if frontline managers are given the tools to succeed, HBR found only 12% of respondents said their organizations currently invest sufficiently in the development of frontline managers.
That said, frontline managers set the tone for their workplace and deeply impact the bottom line of any business. The organizations that invest in and empower their frontline workers are much more likely to succeed.
Listen and Learn from Your Managers
First and foremost, leadership must solicit feedback from these managers and learn what their daily schedules look like. By creating a dialogue, leadership learns what’s working and what can be improved upon. Leaders can also identify the most successful performers and replicate patterns of success.
Consider regular in-person check-ins to connect directly with leaders. Offer anonymous surveys as another way for managers to give feedback without fear of repercussion. By offering multiple avenues to contribute feedback, leadership can build trust with managers and create stronger relationships. Not only that, but leadership gets real-time information about what’s going on in the business.
Offer Opportunities for Ongoing Learning
Ongoing training programs are valuable for all nondesk employees, but can be especially useful for deepening essential skills for frontline managers. Not only can training help improve productivity, but ongoing learning for employees has shown to improve engagement and retention.
When soliciting feedback, considering asking what frontline managers would be interested in learning about or if they have preferred methods of learning. Offer different formats, from in-person training to online programming. You may also want to embed ongoing learning into professional pathing for frontline managers to signal your commitment to building up employees’ skillsets.
Consider introducing the following content types to your frontline management learning programs:
Provide Managers with the Right Technology
Frontline Managers are tasked with ensuring onsite operations run smoothly. Historically, nondesk industries like hospitality and retail have been slow to adopt technology specifically to support communications and task management. However, because managers have so much on their plate, a platform that allows them full visibility into the workings of the business would be a game-changer.
Consider the following ways to use technology to help frontline managers execute their roles.
Investing in Your Frontline Managers
Frontline managers are an invaluable asset to your business and should be treated as such. Provide managers with the opportunities to give feedback, build skills, and better execute their roles with technology. The managers that feel valued will in turn feel invested in the organization, leading to stronger management and onsite productivity.