The vast majority of new front line supervisors are promoted from within based on their technical skills. They quickly learn that it’s the people dynamic that can be the most frustrating and stressful.
One study revealed that most leaders are on the job for 13 years before they get access to leadership training. Learning through experience is a valuable but painful teacher! And their lack of leadership competence tends to create other unsatisfactory outcomes for the organization:
- More issues get escalated to the management team that should be handled by the front line leader.
- HR ends up dealing with more complaints from employees because of disrespectful conduct, perceived favoritism and increased turnover.
- Business results suffer – especially safety, quality and productivity.
Contrary to popular myth, most effective leaders are not born great leaders, they are developed over time. Based on 25 years of experience in helping front line supervisors, team leaders and managers be more confident, capable and consistent in their leadership role, we’ve found three key areas require the most attention to achieve leadership success:
1. Create a positive work environment
The leader’s attitude is contagious. So unless the goal is having a culture of negativity and misery, the leader should focus on positive reinforcement and seeking solutions to problems. Leading by example will ensure a consistent connection between the leader’s actions and words. You can tell a lot about a company’s culture by whether the employees engage or avoid eye contact. Negative environments create disconnections in relationships. Positive environments are evidenced by the level of interaction between team members, leaders and visitors.
Even leaders who are having a bad day should remember that their attitude is contagious and therefore a positive approach will pay dividends in productivity, quality, creativity and safety.
2. Communicate and build relationships
A top employee motivator is “being in on things” which explains why most gossip and rumors are about company issues and changes. The front line leader needs to spend time with all the employees on his or her team and keep everyone up to date on company news and upcoming changes. Many leaders inadvertently play favorites by keeping some team members informed while excluding others.
It is embarrassing for leaders at all levels when they find out news from the “grapevine” before they hear it through official channels. Therefore most meetings should include a brief discussion about how the news and information will be communicated to the rest of the organization.
3. Eliminate obstacles and excuses to performance
Even though most leaders don’t realize it, their primary role is to remove obstacles and frustrations that keep their team members from being able to perform. The leader exists not to monitor and supervise, but to support and unblock barriers. If you believe that the vast majority of employees want to do a good job, then your focus will be on improving support systems, opening up communication and improving internal supply chains.
Team members will benefit from, and appreciate, a leader who focuses on documenting best practices in the form of standardized work, provides effective training on work tasks, and provides feedback in the form of positive and corrective feedback.
How we can help
We are passionate about developing the leadership skills that front line supervisors, team leaders and managers need to improve safety, productivity and quality, while maximizing the involvement of all team members. Whether you need foundational skills or a specialized workshop, reach out and start a conversation to see how we can help you achieve success.