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Managers Development Story

Terry Farber Eliasaf | Oct. 26, 2022

If you love rooting for the underdogs, read this week’s blog post and learn how, with a little TLC and Hunter help, newly-advanced frontline managers - the underdogs that everyone expects to advance but no one seems to want to train - can help take your organization to the big leagues.

Let’s face it: frontline managers are the underdogs of the working world. They’re overworked, undertrained, and, if they do eventually get promoted to a more senior and less customer-facing position, they often find themselves struggling to motivate individual employees, as well as by higher-level bosses pressuring them to perform and scale.

Why? Because the skills and talents they use when dealing directly with customers as frontline workers prior to being promoted don’t necessarily translate into those skills and talents they need to lead, when advancing to the next level, and serving as the go-between the next generation of frontliners and the executive tier. While one might be a most efficient shelf stacker or salesperson, prioritizing which boxes to use for the bottom of a shelf display, or which products to use for an upsell scheme, these and other similar skills don’t exactly get one far, when managing teams of living, breathing people.

Instead of being offered development opportunities to ensure they’re adequately equipped to take this leap, newly promoted frontline managers are, unfortunately, often left to sink or swim on their own. It seems as though, in an effort to wash their hands of having to deal with them and their potentially longer learning curve, few executives actually take frontline managers under their wings and train them to help them develop into the professionals the organization wants and needs them to be.

Why it’s worth companies’ while to develop frontline workers into frontline managers

Frontline workers possess unique, hands-on experience in their organizations’ target markets. They interact with customers on a daily basis, serving as their first point of contact, and continue to accompany them throughout their consumer journeys, even past the point of purchase, when service and support are required, and retention or future transactions are to be secured. Unlike any other position within the industry (except for maybe research and development experts), they hear, first-hand, what customers’ needs are, how they’re looking for them to be fulfilled, and why turning to the competition hasn’t served them well, in the past. They also have a direct and updated understanding of the relevant market’s needs and requirements.

If provided with the proper training to shift their practical work habits from those that are more micro and technical to those that are more big-picture and leadership-oriented in nature, frontliners are aptly positioned to help the entire organization optimize their development, production, marketing, and sales endeavors, and guide the business as a whole, towards a far more substantial ROI. What’s more, many frontline workers (79%) are eager to achieve job growth and seize learning opportunities (75%) - even more so than they desire to receive better benefits (67%) or a more senior job title (58%).

If executives want to harness the power that is inherent to bringing frontline workers into the management space, they must learn these workers’ needs, open the lines of communication, and provide newly-promoted frontline managers the support they need to successfully advance in their careers.

What frontline management training should look like

Whenever a frontline worker is promoted to a managerial position, the first step should be to set up a meeting, during which the scope of their new role is clearly defined. Setting clear objectives and expectations is the best way to ensure that these new managers work toward achieving management-level goals.

To help bridge any gaps between existing skill sets and expectations, a two-pronged approach can be taken, including management development sessions and mentorship from excellent frontline managers who started off working the front line as well. Doing so not only helps ensure that frontline managers understand how to practically do their new jobs, but it also helps build the motivation and morale they need to be a voice for the organization, rather than just another cog in the wheel.

It’s true that large-scale training programs and offsites are extremely effective at achieving the desired effect. However, you don’t have to “go big or go home.” In between quarterly, bi-annual, or annual events that cost time and money, smaller development initiatives, such as digital “bites” or tips sent to managers’ phones, or weekly Zoom check-ins, can be implemented to meet managers where they are, and nourish them with the information and guidance they need to lead.

Additionally, regular assessments of frontline managers’ performance and the provision of bi-directional, constructive feedback that is open, honest, and non-confrontational, further enable frontline managers to grow, feel supported, and help your organization meet its goals.

Frontline management development - when there’s a will, there’s a way!

According to a McKinsey report, those few companies that make an effort to develop their frontline managers’ leadership skills place particular emphasis on coaching and mentoring the teams under their direct responsibility, leading to higher levels of success and satisfaction, all around. Rather than focusing on technical skills and optimizing managers’ performance of administrative tasks, these development programs work on taking their already established interpersonal and customer service skills to the next level. Namely, if you will it, you too can implement successful frontline management development that leverages the skills these newly-appointed leaders already possess, and adapts them to their new positions, and their requisite responsibilities.

Unsure of what such a development program practically entails? The Hunter team is happy to help! Talk to us about setting up a consultation. >> https://hunter.co.il/en/contact/