If companies today are truly serious about being leaner, flatter organizations, with less hierarchical structure and less bureaucracy, then they need to realize that they must change the way they do business. Because organizations that really want to become more autonomous have to develop outstanding frontline leadership.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being a company with fewer levels. Companies like Zappos and Medium that are eliminating structure are doing it for all the right reasons. However, if the change isn’t built on a solid foundation of frontline leadership, then it’s set to fail.
Our friends at Halogen Software partnered with Harvard Business Review to analyze the resources, tools and development that frontline managers need to be successful. You can download the full report here. The results are very interesting:
- 77% of executives surveyed said frontline managers are important in helping their organization reach its business goals,
- However, 65% believe that frontline managers do not receive sufficient tools and training to develop into highly effective leaders,
- And 79% said it’s negatively impacting their business.
How can we expect our frontline managers to lead the operation, identify and develop future talent, and grow themselves professionally if we don’t offer them any type of leadership development? There’s a real disconnect here and the gap is growing wider every day.
What I found noteworthy were the skills that executives said their frontline leaders lack. Competencies such as decision making and critical thinking were at the top of the list.
I don’t have to tell you that, if a manager doesn’t feel they are being set up for success but being held accountable for results, this creates resentment. It can undermine corporate culture and employee morale. And eventfully, your best employees will leave. Because your best employees always have options.
I know it can be a challenge to convince senior leadership to make the investment in developing frontline managers. I thought this figure from the survey really told the story of why frontline managers don’t get the resources they need.
I’ve used a few of these lines myself – especially the “no time and no money” one. But over the years, I’ve come to realize it’s an excuse and I’m only prolonging the inevitable. People will leave because they don’t feel they can do their best work. Or they’ll stay and not do their best work.
Either way, the business suffers.
At some point, businesses have to realize investing in talent has a positive impact on the bottom-line. This means creating a training and retention strategy is a necessary part of a business strategy.
Graph Source: “Frontline Managers: Are They Given the Leadership Tools to Succeed?” a report by Harvard Business Review Analytic Services © 2014 Harvard Business School Publishing
Image courtesy of HR Bartender0