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Frontline Leaders

Your Organization’s Greatest ‘Hidden’ Asset

Whether your organization has 1 or 100 frontline leaders, this critical role is where the rubber meets the road.  Frontline leaders direct the day-to-day work of much of the workforce and are often the first and last people employees encounter every day.  These ‘player-coaches’ have everything to do with hiring, developing, motivating, and retaining the lion’s share of your employees. With turnover skyrocketing and unemployment remaining at historical lows, it’s more important than ever for companies to invest in these leaders.

During my career, I’ve seen many companies make the same mistakes repeatedly when it comes to frontline leaders. These include:

  • Promoting successful individual contributors into a leadership role without providing training and development
  • Lack of clear performance objectives
  • Overloading leaders with individual contributor duties thus preventing them from focusing on their team
  • Limited or no exposure to senior leadership on a regular basis
  • Excluding them from participation in strategic initiatives that will impact frontline workers, day-to-day operations, etc.

Three notable statistics to consider where frontline leaders make the greatest impact:

  • According to a study by Gallup, companies with engaged employees experience 41% less absenteeism and 21% higher profitability.
  • A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed that 68% of employees consider professional development opportunities crucial for job satisfaction.
  • Research from Harvard Business Review shows that 70% of employees are more engaged when they have a clear understanding of how their work contributes to organizational goals.

The best frontline leaders are rock stars in these areas:

  1. Communication & Engagement – encouraging open communication channels and providing a safe space for employees to share their ideas, concerns, and feedback including regular team meetings and one-on-one check-ins.
  2. Training & Development – actively supporting employees in setting career goals, discussing growth opportunities, and creating individual development plans.
  3. Performance Management – working with each team member to set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) goals, ensuring alignment with broader company objectives, and then regularly revisiting goals to provide feedback that helps employees stay focused and motivated.

While these practices sound like common sense, they are rarely utilized effectively.  Frontline leaders often lack the training and time to invest this kind of effort in each team member.  If you are a senior leader or HR professional, take a hard look at this critical group of employees and ask yourself if more can be done to support them – your investment is guaranteed to have a great ROI!