From the desk of Ben Klein – Senior Project Director

Frontline employees are the lifeblood of your organization and to most customers they are the face of the company. Yet, for frontline employees, the face of the company is their immediate manager. Effective frontline managers can improve customer service, increase productivity, and reduce turnover.

While there is no exact way to manage every group and every situation, there are proven effective and ineffective behaviors for managers. Beyond operational competency, there are necessary skills managers need to have, including performance management (both recognition and accountability), communication, and the ability to develop the people on their team. How do you know if your frontline managers have the right skills to effectively manage their teams?

Evaluating frontline managers requires two main steps: understanding and defining the behaviors you want managers to engage in and getting feedback from the people they manage. There are multiple tools that can be used to accomplish this:

Annual Employee Feedback: If you already survey your employees at regularly scheduled intervals, that is an opportunity to evaluate frontline managers. Additional questions can allow employees to provide feedback confidentially and collectively on their managers’ behaviors and consistency. These results can be used as a benchmark to measure improvement or decline in the next survey. We find the most effective way to ensure good quality feedback is to ‘pipe in’ manager names directly into the survey to make sure employees know who they are rating.

Leadership Effectiveness Survey: If you do not already survey employees regularly, or if it makes sense to keep these evaluations separate, a Leadership Effectiveness Survey can be a targeted tool for assessing the skill level of your frontline managers. This provides a great easy to read report that managers can use to develop their own personal development plans.

360 Evaluation: In a 360 Evaluation, managers are assessed by their teams but also by their peers, their direct leader and themselves. This provides an evaluation of them as managers and shows if those behaviors are consistent in other interactions. It can also illuminate some gaps in how managers perceive themselves versus how others perceive them. We find the most successful 360s are focused on development and growth and not used for performance evaluations.

Your frontline employees are critical to the success of your business and their managers have the biggest effect on their work experience and engagement. Regardless of the tool you use, it is crucial that you are assessing where managers need to improve, both as a group and as individuals.  

If you need help assessing the skills of your frontline managers, contact us at [email protected].