So much of the literature about how to improve employee engagement focuses on employees. But we can’t overlook an essential piece of the puzzle – the role of frontline managers.
Frontline managers are the link between upper management and the employees. Frontline managers are the ones employees turn to for constant feedback, to guide them, create corporate culture, and move employees toward organizational goals. Frontline managers have a direct impact on: employee turnover, customer satisfaction, productivity, communication, fostering alignment, innovation, and being the channel of communication of executive leadership.
In a 2014 edition of Harvard Business Review, 77% of the people surveyed said frontline managers are critical in helping organization’s reach their goals while only 12% said the organization invests enough in the development of frontline managers. And “more than 90 percent believed frontline managers’ lack of leadership development negatively impacts employee engagement results.”
In a Towers Watson report, they’ve identified the following critical areas where frontline management needs improvement across the board: coaching and team building skills, funding to reward high performance (both of employees and managers), employee feedback and evaluations, among others.
There’s a huge discrepancy between how much an organization invests in frontline managers, their competency, and training and how much an organization relies on frontline managers.
When discussing strategic alignment, one of the three critical aspects is developing capabilities. Continuing education, leadership development, and training must include management. The trickle-down training effect doesn’t work, as organizations are becoming more horizontal. The top management can’t be the ones with top training. There has to be a robust continued education and leadership training program in place, as performance support and how to improve employee engagement are bed partners. The link between the two is unbreakable.
High performance engagement focuses on the capabilities and competency of frontline managers. There are mini 360 feedback surveys that employees can take to evaluate managers in their organizations. These surveys are not witch hunts. They measure: behaviors and competencies, listening, planning and goal setting skills, teamwork, character and leadership effectiveness.
They are designed to help managers and leaders understand what they need to do in order to not just engage employees, but to be successful. 360 feedback surveys are ways for managers and leaders to get a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses. Based on the survey results, managers can create a development plan. Organizations that invest in these kinds of surveys must also invest in ways to further develop their frontline managers’ talents.
By investing in frontline managers with the right training and performance support, organizations see a spike in employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and success.