Whenever leadership and management development is discussed in organisations, the focus is usually on middle and more senior managers. Firstline or frontline managers tend to be left out. Before I go on to write about why I think this is wrong and a big mistake, let me clarify what i mean by firstline managers.

Firstline managers are those staff that directly manage those responsible for delivering services and products. In support teams, firstline managers manage those delivering the direct support. Firstline managers are often not involved in strategic or operational planning but they are responsible for managing those who will carry out the tasks involved in those operational plans. Firstline managers come in the form of line managers, supervisors, team leaders and deputy managers. Sometimes they are senior staff who don’t have any management title but they do manage one or more frontline workers. These are the people I define as frontline managers.

From my definition above you can already see that frontline managers are very important people because they are directly responsible for the success of any organisation. It therefore makes sense that every organisation should take the time and resources to invest in their firstline managers.

Here are three reasons why you should not ignore the development of your firstline managers.

  1. Since firstline managers are responsible for those who deliver goods, services and direct support, they have a direct impact on the performance and productivity levels of the organisation. Ignore them at your own peril. Poor firstline managers will inevitably affect the productivity and performance of the organisation.
  2. The largest management population in any organisation tend to be the firstline managers. Since they are the largest amount of managers, consequently they also manage more people. You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘people don’t leave an organisation, rather they leave their managers’. Poor firstline managers can affect your turnover, organisational wellbeing and therefore performance. So ignoring there development does not make any reasonable business sense.
  3. Finally, investing in your firstline managers is a good way to motivate them and make them feel valued. If you have firstline managers who feel valued and they are your largest management population and also manage the most staff, think of what that can do for your organisation. It can have a positive impact on performance and productivity.

There is a fourth reason which i will discuss in a future post and it’s this, investing in your firstline managers does not need to be expensive. If you are currently avoiding investing in them because you feel it is too expensive then drop that thought. If you have at least one learning and development practitioner working in your organisation then you can roll out a firstline manager development programme that is good enough and will go a long way in empowering your firstline managers.

And even if you don’t have a learning and development team, your middle and senior managers can do the job with just a little bit of support.

One comment

  • Love this and it is so true. Investing at this stage helps people to feel valued.
    They are the Leaders of the future so it’s important to give them the support and skills that are needed to make companies successful.


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