Culture Powers Business™

Your Company’s Secret Weapon for Transformative Cultural and Operational Performance Gains: Frontline Leaders

Your Company’s Secret Weapon for Transformative Cultural and Operational Performance Gains: Frontline Leadership

Investing in Training and Developing Your Frontline Leaders Positively Impacts Company Culture, Employee Engagement, and Retention

As the labor market continues to tighten, executive leadership is turning inward and uncovering a too often overlooked secret weapon: investing in developing their frontline leadership. These are the people vital to achieving hard-fought operational performance gains in an unpredictable market. They are your real-time connection to every aspect of internal and external operations, a critical need today as the speed of change continues to outpace the capacity to learn it.

With proper training and development, these vested frontline leaders can liberate executive management from the granular, day-to-day minutiae that often dominate their time, enabling them to focus on the bigger picture and navigate the company’s overall performance. And in a tight labor market, where an empowered workforce is seeking employment opportunities that matter, this investment is a must.

Frontline managers are the primary face of leadership for the majority of your workforce. They may only be in their first or second role overseeing teams—but they run the lion’s share of core activities in the company and directly affect customer interactions and satisfaction. As a result, they have an enormous impact on productivity, employee engagement and retention, and your company’s overall competitive advantage. They also serve as your talent pipeline for senior leadership roles.

Many leaders already understand the importance of frontline management in their company’s day-to-day performance and how instrumental they are in keeping things running smoothly and efficiently. But are executives and senior leaders aware that these frontline managers are the absolute linchpin to their organization’s transformation and ultimately steer how quickly you should innovate and where? Read on to learn more about how frontline leaders are your company’s very own secret weapon in innovation and transformation.

Frontline Leaders Have the Ability to Engage, Shape and Mobilize Your Workforce to Respond to Rapidly-Changing Market Conditions

It’s been estimated that frontline leaders typically comprise 50-60% of an organization’s management division and directly supervise up to 80% of the workforce. They’re the boots on the ground translating the organization’s strategy to the rank and file and motivating individuals to implement it correctly. In addition, by providing intentional feedback to their teams on both areas for improvement and areas of excellence, frontline managers provide employees with tailored direction and create clearer understandings of their roles, which motivates employees to exceed expectations or put in the extra effort.

Additionally, frontline managers’ feelings toward senior management and the company holistically influence how they will lead their workforce. When they are engaged and energized, that directly flows through to employees — resulting in an amped-up, aligned workforce. Successful frontline leaders will then draw out a discretionary effort from a critical cohort of people that they have developed, who can see the long view, and who want to enact meaningful change.

Their Finger is On the Pulse of Your Organization – But Isn’t Trigger Happy 

Day in, day out, frontline supervisors and managers are at the center of everything going on within the company and markets. They’re out in the field talking to your customers and prospects. They’re making negotiations with your suppliers and vendors. They’re strategizing how to make your partnerships work for you. They’re the first to see how your products are being received in the market and the first to know what your competitors are doing differently. Because of this, they know when it’s time to move on or move forward.

Through their bumpy road to transformation, frontline leaders gain an agile and adaptive mindset that enables them to juggle risk and opportunity. They can utilize their unique expertise and dive deep into the actions that will create accelerated transformation while also retaining a discretionary portion of “business as usual” to help keep the horizon of the business in view — whether it be the current mainstream or emerging and innovative.

They Keep Executive and Senior Leadership on Their Toes

Frontline leaders represent an integral feedback loop that allows the C-Suite and executive leadership to stay informed of the latest developments in the business. When executive leaders foster easy, open communication with their frontline managers, they become more able to anticipate unexpected developments and quickly respond to them.

A company’s frontline employees know the business best. They intimately understand what customers say they want and inform frontline management of those needs as well as their own. By crowdsourcing frontline employee ideas (also sometimes referred to as intrapreneurship), frontline leaders take direct responsibility for turning an idea into a new product or service — building creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking and skills within the structure of your organization. These are the meaningful opportunities to make a difference that employees want.

By utilizing existing frameworks and resources in a bottom-up approach, this intrapreneurship usually leads to initiatives that advance the wider company and create sustainable operational performance gains in the short team and over the long haul.

The POWERS Approach

Frontline leadership requires an ongoing investment in training and development to master the language, interactions, and behaviors that will result in the operational performance improvements you need in the short term and the transformational growth you aspire to over the long haul.

At POWERS, we dig in, side by side, with you and your team to uncover the issues affecting performance to put transformative and sustainable optimization solutions in place from the shop floor to the top floor.

Our proven Culture Performance Management methodology connects the dots between optimized company culture and transformative business performance outcomes. POWERS has helped global leaders across many industries to operationalize their culture for rapid and sustainable performance improvement, a more engaged and empowered workforce, a more decisive competitive advantage, and greater value.     

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About the Author

Sean Hart, CEO, POWERS Management Consulting

Sean Hart

CEO, Managing Partner

Sean Hart is an industrial engineer with a background in manufacturing supervision and project management. Sean’s background is in improving overall plant efficiencies and implementing Lean techniques to improve processes.