Moving the Frontline Forward: Engaging Your Employees to Provide an Optimal Customer Outcome through Improving the Overall Manager Experience
Do you know someone who was very good at their job, and as a result was promoted into management without any people training? Maybe you’ve promoted an employee into management assuming they could hack it. Despite our best intentions, truth of the matter is most managers are not equipped to handle the people piece. The author of Be a Frontline HERO – a new book providing simple and accessible frontline management tools – tells a story we can all relate to that managers can incorporate in the same day and see immediate results.
While innovative products and efficient processes are still the primary focus of most leaders, we know what really keeps a company competitive is its people. For over twenty years, the Gallup poll identifies approximately two-thirds of the workforce as not engaged in their work. Best said by Gallup’s CEO, Jim Clifton, in the State of the American Workplace Report:
Nearly the same percentage of people leaves their job, or plan to leave, as a direct result of the quality of the relationship with their direct supervisor. In August 2018, Randstad US released research determining the primary reasons workers chose to leave, most all of them were related to “…intangible benefits and day-to-day experiences at work…”. In October 2018, Inc.com noted the Randstad US article and summed it by saying, “Why people quit really boils down to one word…Disrespect.”
Why does all of this matter? According to Dr. Cyndi Laurin, author of Be a Frontline HERO: A Parable to Propel your Job and Life (June 2019, ISBN 978-1098586089). “If employees are walking out the door because of bad management, they’re clearly not engaged in the work at hand, making an optimal customer outcome nearly impossible.” She goes on to say, “If we can right the ship with regard to improving the manager experience, workers will be more likely to engage, and at the end of the day, the customer wins.”
And don’t think for a moment that this is all touchy-feely, Kumbaya work. There is a direct correlation between culture and the bottom line. If the company is bleeding out due to high turnover, poor quality, unhappy employees, and an ineffective culture, customers are going to feel the pain as well and take their business elsewhere.
So here’s the real issue: How do you give your most valuable asset (your managers) the resources they need to quickly become effective without spending tons of money on training and months of time to see results? Reading Be a Frontline HERO is a great place to start. It tells the story of the main character, Emily, finding herself promoted to manager at a local pizzeria. While excited about the new challenge, she quickly realizes she’s in way over her head. Giving and soliciting regular feedback with her former peers, trying to establish standards and set expectations, and “faking it until she makes it” leaves her feeling both overwhelmed and exhausted.
On the brink of quitting, an unlikely customer makes Emily an offer she can’t refuse. Five easy tools with very specific language to follow, and Emily learns how to provide meaningful feedback, how to get her team on the same page in less than ten minutes, and how to prioritize which issues to tackle right away and which to block for later. With her new H.E.R.O. tool belt, Emily is well on her way to becoming an effective manager.
Here is some context supporting the book’s insights on how to provide an optimal customer outcome through improving the overall manager experience:
- Management is the practice of observation and providing clear, regular feedback. The old (yet still prevalent) command-and-control style of management is antithetical to creating a culture where employees can engage in work that allows the customer to experience an optimal outcome. Without a system to manage others, people tend to default to how they were parented. Parenting your employees is not managing them. Three of the five tools in Be a Frontline HERO (Position to Notice, Keep it Up, and Adjust) provide both reinforcing and corrective language to support desired behaviors.
- Many employees only receive feedback when they are doing something wrong (hence, it feels like being parented). Dr. Laurin shared, “Over the past 25 years, I have found that many employees want to be trusted and valued and told when they are doing something right as well as how to correct doing something that isn’t moving the business forward.” Behavioral research supports offering three opportunities for supporting desired behaviors to every one opportunity to adjust undesired behaviors.
- When asked, you would be surprised at how few employees actually know how their work aligns to the overall business objectives. “Without that connection, it’s hard to engage in meaningful work,” says Dr. Laurin. “Be a Frontline HERO includes a tool to get your team on the same page in under ten minutes and stay on track throughout the day (Position to Notice, a.k.a. Walkabout).”
- One of the most challenging aspects of managing is being able to decipher what issues need to be resolved immediately, and which ones can safely wait until a later time. As a frontline manager, issues with employees, customers, and inventory can be difficult to prioritize without a tool or system. One of the tools addresses this exact challenge and offers simple steps to ensure effective management of time (Block or Tackle).
This brings us to the true appeal of Be a Frontline HERO. Written as a narrative, the book is a quick and easy yet powerful read, and the content can be implemented immediately. It’s not only a highly effective for new frontline leaders but can serve as a valuable model for experienced leaders as well. It’s an interesting and fun read about a scenario that anyone can relate to.
“I believe the time is now to move frontline leadership forward,” says Dr. Laurin. “Many of us get promoted into a leadership role at some point or another without any guidance on how to manage people, and unless you are lucky enough to work for a company that invests in practical management guidance and support, Be a Frontline HERO can provide five simple tools that you can literally start using in the same day and see immediate results.”
About the Author:
Cyndi (Crother) Laurin, Ph.D. is the author of bestselling Catch! A Fishmonger’s Guide to Greatness (2005) and The Rudolph Factor: Finding the Bright Lights that Drive Innovation in Your Business (2009). She is a sought after keynote speaker, Chief Training Officer for AMP Services, and is also the Director for the undergraduate Business Administration Programs at Benedictine University Mesa. More information about her can be found at www.Linkedin.com/in/cyndilaurin.