The higher senior leaders progress in the ranks, the harder it becomes to keep a pulse of the work itself. Consequently, front-line managers have the greatest influence on the greatest number of workers. Neglecting the front lines can lead to the creation of barriers that only serves to stifle front-line execution.
Many companies value innovation. Upper and middle managers must find ways to unlock the power of ideas on the front lines. Studies have also shown that roughly 80 percent of performance improvement potential lies in front-line ideas and only 20 percent in top-down management-driven initiatives. Here are four steps you can take to tap into the latent power within front-line managers.
Step one: Foster a culture of “we”. Shatter the “us” versus “them” management divide and make sure all managers, no matter their rank, know they are playing on the same team.
Step two: Take the time to visit with front-line managers to build rapport and credibility. This will not be easy considering the tight schedules of Executives, but it is vitally important.
Step three: Ask front-line managers three important questions to create a posture of learning over commanding. (See “3 Questions Executives Should Ask Front-line Workers” to learn more.) They are:
- “How can I help you?”
- “Why are we doing it this way?”
- “How are we doing in living out our values?”
Be patient. Front-line managers may not give honest feedback in the beginning for fear of reprisal. However, if asked authentically, these questions could serve as a catalyst for re-engagement.
Step Four: Create an execution task force that includes all leadership levels to provide an avenue for follow-up of creative ideas and valid concerns.
These actions will help senior leaders and CEOs lead through the front. DB&A Consultants can also “roll up their sleeves” and help your front-line managers re-engage and reach the top of their game. Contact us now to explore our customizable solutions.