A Look at Frontline Managers

This level of manager is known as supervisor, team leader, section head, coordinator, frontline manager, or manager. Frontline managers are the link between non-management employees and the rest of management.


The frontline manager’s role is to ensure that team members are respected and effectively utilised, to deliver the team’s performance goals. Labour accounts for a significant portion of the total operating cost, and costs associated with turnover can be up to twice the annual salary for each employee that leaves the organisation. It makes sense to look after your people.


Because frontline managers have direct and daily contact with the workforce, the role is unique and one of the most important in any organisation. They are ideally positioned to directly influence the output, morale, service excellence and cost-effectiveness of their work group.


This means being accountable for team performance and present behaviour, and communicating future expectations. Sustained positive effort by the frontline manager to maximise productive output of the workforce will result in the longest lasting and most continuous return for the effort. This is achieved by controlling the work through better planning and more efficient use of the labour assigned.


Because of their closeness to the workplace and the workforce, frontline managers are often in the best posi­tion to translate management’s vision and goals to employees and to explain employees’ feel­ings to senior management. Success as a leader depends on the ability to understand and convey information.   This requires the development of good listening skills and the ability to be understood. The supervisor must know company rules, systems and processes and use and follow them.


The professional frontline manager deals closely with people and the complex problems associated with people and relationships.  This means being aware of the wants and differing needs of individuals while at the same time maintaining conformity to a set of business standards.


To many employees, frontline managers personify the organisation as a whole.

They serve as a focal point for attitudes, values and models of how to behave towards customers,         the or­ganisation and the job itself.


Frontline managers are well placed to see, and often identify with, both sides of an issue. This closeness can also lead to loyalty problems. On the one hand, frontline managers work very closely with non-management employees and, in many cases, were part of this group before their promotion to management. They may continue to identify with the work­force, and senior managers may mentally continue to place them there too.


This means that on the organisation chart, frontline managers may be ‘managers’ but in some people’s minds (sometimes even in their own minds) they are ‘workers’. There is no doubt that in some organisations frontline managers are, in practice, ‘glorified workers’, ex­pected to carry out the same tasks as the people they supervise, with their management duties an added-on extra.


This requires frontline managers to personally challenge themselves to be the best they can be.  This will involve measuring yourself against your own expectations, as well as the expectations of your immediate team of employees and the organisation.


It is important that every frontline manager believes in conducting themselves in a professional and responsible manner in all aspects of their job is a key to success.


Each frontline manager is a critical member of the team and must practice effective management by:

  • being totally responsible for all aspects of their position
  • treating employees with respect and helping them to be successful in their jobs. This means being responsive to their needs as they are the means by which we will achieve the objectives
  • addressing and being responsible for those that detract from that objective
  • set the standard of acceptable behaviours by personal example
  • be predictable with respect to daily dealings, on the job with people
  • be the type of leader you would like to have and treat your employees the way you would like to be treated.  Treat them like equals, because they are equals.

o   identify the potential in team members and guide them in developing their competencies.

Are you considering a role as a frontline manager? The Pivot Institute offer the Certificate IV in Leadership & Management. This qualification is aimed at frontline managers. Call us today to find out more: 08 9221 1803


Copyright of the Pivot Institute 2016