By: Daniel McCorry – July 2015
Being a ‘leader’ doesn’t come naturally for everyone, and even for those few that have an innate ability to lead, it doesn’t mean the role is a simple one…indeed, there’s a huge (and ever increasing) amount pressure that comes with frontline management these days so the more support they can get from their learning and development team, the better.
Of course, one of the most common issues facing people moving from a frontline role into a leadership position is that the outstanding technical knowledge and skills they possess (e.g. the ability to build a brick wall, operate a piece of machinery, etc) that contributed to them being promoted to a leadership position, rarely (if ever) guarantee that they will have the social and commercial knowledge and skills they will require to succeed as a leader…indeed, precious few people have ever had the opportunity to learn these skills in a structured and well managed setting!
For this reason, a great many frontline managers say that they often feel overwhelmed and unable to face the day-to-day challenges presented to them.
With this in mind, in this article, we offer a few simple tips for providing this support whilst also helping prepare them for future leadership roles.
- Focus – frontline managers have enough to contend with without having to consider a multitude of capability development strategies. Work with them to identify no more than 3-5 key learning items aligned to both personal and organisational goals and that will assist them with their role as a leader and get them on track.
- Senior Engagement – get the senior managers and, if possible, the C-suite in developing the organisational leadership strategy so that everyone, from the board to the frontline, know what’s required and goals are aligned.
- Mentoring – Make the most of the experience of your senior leaders by organising coaching and mentoring relationships between them and the future leaders
- Feedback – The amount of feedback a leader gets typically reduces (and gets less honest) as they move up the seniority ladder. You should therefore aim to develop a culture that embraces honest feedback at every level as a mechanism for improvement.
- Reward – does your reward system align to the organisational goals and strategy? If you’re like most companies, rewards are often focussed more on short-term results when they should also consider short, medium, and long-term outcomes.
There are, of course, many other ways that the learning and development team can support their frontline managers (not the least of which is a well thought out training program, such as a Certificate IV in Leadership & Management (formerly the Cert IV in Frontline Management) that provides the essential social and commercial skills a leader needs to effectively manage their team) but the five suggestions above offer simple, low-cost opportunities to help them succeed.
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