Critical Feedback for the Frontline

Image of frontline leader seeking trainingFrontline leaders are crucial to an organization’s success. Frontline leaders are the closest leadership level to the customers and are responsible for day-to-day operations. In addition, they must ensure their team is engaged and exhibit positive, impactful workplace behaviors that realize the organization’s vision. They are vitally important to successfully meeting business objectives. Yet, this is also one of the most undertrained positions on the leadership team. Approximately 60% of frontline leaders say they’ve never received training for their role. This is staggering given the weight of responsibility being placed on them.

Undertrained and unprepared, yes. But not unmotivated. These frontline leaders are hungry for direction, leadership, coaching, and development opportunities. At times, they just don’t know where to start. Ideally, the organization should have a formal leadership development program that delivers consistent, long-term training around the skills necessary for building strong relationships and creating engagement in teams. These are not one-time events, but continuous experiences that measure, coach, develop, and refine skills over time.

Where formal training is lacking, frontline leaders must take the reins of their own self-development. It can be a challenge when deciding where to start, because it requires a strong self-awareness that isn’t as common as one would think. Many frontline leaders (actually, most levels of leadership) don’t have a strong understanding of how they’re perceived by their boss, peers, direct reports, and customers. They are also overly confident that they are already getting feedback already. An open communication policy doesn’t ensure that the feedback given is truly honest, nor does it ensure it is of value.

An effective 360 degree assessment taps into the collective impression that others hold by asking targeted questions around key competency areas. The responses are aggregated to ensure the anonymity of participants; therefore they often reveal gaps in perception. Although it’s important for a frontline leader to identify key development areas by looking at which competencies they rated themselves higher at in contrast to how others rated that same competency, there’s also value in the reverse. There can be competencies where others rated the individual higher than they rated themselves. These competencies could signal unrealized potential. Identifying patterns in the feedback, especially where there is a high level of agreement among raters should receive adequate attention.

As a frontline manager with a career path of future leadership positions ahead of you, the sooner you gain a strong self-awareness of your strengths, development areas, traits, preferences, motivational drivers, decision-making, and communication skills, the sooner you can begin closing the skill gaps that all frontline managers experience.

To get a jump start on your development journey, register to attend our 3-day Step-Up workshop, beginning on June 15th. Click here to learn more!