5 Important Leadership Skills to Develop in Your Frontline Managers

One of the most important decisions your company makes begins and ends with the individuals you place in frontline leadership positions.

Frontline managers are an integral part of building your customer experience through handling the complexities of managing an increasingly diverse workforce, being more responsive to customers, solving a wider array of problems and, in certain positions, cross-selling prodcuts and services in addtion to handling everything else on their plates.

A special report from Harvard Business Review Analytical Services highlights the disconnect between the development frontline managers need to do their jobs versus the development they actually get, stating that while 77 percent of respondents said frontline managers are important in helping their businesses reach their goals, only 12 percent of respondents currently invests sufficiently in the development of their frontline managers.

Are Management Skills an Afterthought or a Priority in Your Company?

In her article “The True Cost Of Bad Managers – And Why You Need Really Great Ones”, Patty Azzarello, founder and CEO of the Azzarello Group explains, “The mistake I see many companies make is to expect
people to automatically turn into good managers simply because they are in the job. They miss the key step of telling their managers what makes a good manager, or setting clear expectations about what the job is.”

In other words, a strong technical skillset alone is not enough when assuming a managerial role.

It’s important that your supervisors can set your teams up for success. In order to accomplish this, there are five important leadership skills every business should make a priority in the development of their managers.

  1. Adaptability: Adaptability is a crucial quality in managers and supervisors. In today’s dynamic environment, adaptability is an essential skill for managers to have to keep pace with shifting technological and work environment changes. To pinpoint adaptability during the talent acquisition process, FurstPerson recommends measuring three specific skills: creative thinking, a forward-facing mentality, and open-mindedness.
  1. Business Knowledge: Knowing and being trained in the principles of your business allows your leaders to understand your business’s priorities and strategy, and how best to help contribute to achieving them. This way, leaders not only have the ability to connect their work and the work of their teams to the vision of the organization, hence they can more effectively demonstrate to their direct reports how their work contributes to the organization’s overall success.
  1. Setting Goals: Once leaders know what’s important to your organization and why, they become better equipped to develop strategies that focus the efforts of their team on what matters. Whether the goal is to increase sales, better quality of service, or a lower average handle time, once defined performance standards have been set, leaders can let their teams know what is expected of them, and how they will be evaluated.
  1. Task Execution: When goals are established, leadership can set milestones for their teams, then monitor progress and give them direction on how to achieve those milestones. Conversely, managers need to be able to observe when progress is stalling or goals are in danger of not being met, so they can course-correct in a timely manner.
  1. Inspiring Others: One of the most critical qualities in effective mangers is not the ability to dictate, but to facilitate. Managers who act as monarchs will achieve significantly less desirable results than those who have both technical and soft skills necessary to successfully lead ehtier teams. Managers should be focused on recognizing their employees and providing their reports with meaningful feedback so their team not only know where they can improve, but what they’re doing well. At the end of the day, most people in the workplace wants to be treated with dignity and respect, and to know that what they’re doing actually matters.

Leveraging Talent Acquisition Software to Find and Develop Your Leaders

While it’s important to develop the managers you have, identifying individuals capable of wearing the many hats during pre-employment selection can make your life (and the lives of your employees) much easier. Finding the individuals who show the greatest promise of driving your organization is not as difficult as you think, and can be done during the hiring process with the help of a job analysis.

A competency-based job analysis provides:

  • A list of the competencies needed to be assessed
  • Examples of behaviors that clarify the competencies
  • Suggestions as to the types of exercises that resemble job situations
  • Suggestions for problem content to be used in the exercises
  • An indication of the level of proficiency required for the competencies

With the help of a well-defined job analysis, you can then use talent acquisition software to give your candidates simulations that test how well they keep an open mind, how well they communicate, whether or not they can effectively teach others, and how well they can problem-solve. Essentially, you can pinpoint the skills most indicative of a candidate’s potential to succeed in the challenging role of a frontline manager.

As long as you know what to look for when searching out leaders, you will be able to easily leverage your hiring tools and glean plenty of rich, qualitative data to help you find managers capable of building a better workforce and, consequently, a better customer experience.