Frontline managers important but undertrained

Stark gaps between senior leadership’s perception of frontline managers and organisational commitment to them have been revealed by a new study. Here’s what HR should do about it.

Frontline managers important but undertrained
In
a recent study involving more than 600 global executives, 90% of respondents felt that inadequate leadership among frontline managers was detrimental to employee engagement levels. 
 
The analysis, conducted by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services, also found that 77% of senior leaders perceive these managers as critical in guiding organisations toward their business goals. Indeed research routinely demonstrates that inadequate leadership on the frontline often correlates with increased staff turnover, lower productivity and reduced profits.
 
Despite this fact, a mere 12% of participants believe that their organisations are providing sufficient tools and training to develop frontline managers as leaders. 
 
These numbers provide remarkable insight into a skills gap that needs to be addressed if employers want to increase their long-term profitability and organisational growth.
 
Specifically, the key skills that employers should look to instill in their frontline supervisors are:
 
  • Setting clear goals and expectations
  • Offering regular formal and informal feedback to employees
  • Supporting employee development and success
  • Participating in leadership talent pools and emerging leader programs
  • Understanding personality assessments, such as Myers-Briggs, for improved self-awareness and communication
 
“We expect frontline workers to do lots of complicated things as well as work hard for the employer, typically in contexts where we cannot easily monitor their performance,” said Peter Cappelli, an HR expert at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  “If we undervalue and underinvest in those areas, we pay a price.”
 
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