Your frontline managers bear a huge responsibility to maintain operations and lead teams effectively. They need to be responsive to team dynamics, provide supportive feedback and communicate business needs clearly. They are primarily responsible for the well-being and morale of your employees, which means that your frontline managers require specific technical and soft skills training to keep managers as effective as possible.
What frontline managers bring to your organization
Your frontline managers are a major factor that influence how your employees feel about your organization and their job. Well above compensation, the top reasons for an employee’s happiness at a job and willingness to remain at a company are:
- Culture and Values
- Senior Leadership
- Career Opportunities
In many ways, these three reasons are interrelated. An employee is looking for a company that demonstrates positive values and where their frontline managers reflect those values. Ultimately, this ties into how well an employee feels nurtured in both their personal development and career goals.
Here are three tips for providing effective leadership training to your frontline managers, executives, and senior leaders. As well, we’ll discuss the benefits of delivering key leadership training through eLearning and virtual modalities.
Encourage self-awareness and empathy
Frontline managers need to be aware of their strengths. At the same time, they also need to be aware of their preferences, biases, and assumptions when working with people of differing backgrounds and personalities. Leading without awareness can create uncomfortable and insensitive interactions with team members. Teaching empathy and unconscious bias has long been a struggle for learning and development (L&D) professionals. Immersive learning experiences help to place learners in the shoes of another so frontline managers can better understand the life circumstances of their employees. Diversity, equity, and inclusion training is more important than ever. How your people managers interact, communicate, and lead will set the tone for the team dynamics. Building these essential soft skills ensures that your team will remain effective as it grows and every member feels heard, understood, and respected.
Imagine training that provides an immersive learning experience where learners role play and make personal and professional decisions that have a direct impact on their lives and careers. During a simulation, learners are encouraged to see an alternative perspective, or feel the impact of decisions they’ve made. This type of training can be highly effective for both frontline managers as well as customer-facing employees. For example, a frontline manager can role play as a software engineer to better understand the stresses and goals of an alternative job role. Or a sales associate can role play as a unique customer type to better understand his or her life circumstances. This can be immensely beneficial to the team dynamics moving forward as everyone can better empathize with other members of the team.
Adopt an appreciative inquiry model
Appreciative inquiry is an approach to organizational management that emphasizes working from strengths to find new directions for growth, rather than focusing on weaknesses or issues to be solved. The premise is that focusing and building on what is working well within a diverse team leads to more creative and innovative outcomes. It relies on different world views, mental models, learned values and diverse voices to be heard, understood and considered. The result of this model makes people feel good as they talk about their successes and share positive feedback.
Not only frontline managers, but peers and leaders all contribute to a positive workplace, one where employees feel confident in expressing their opinions and ideas. By developing skills based on this model, your frontline managers will be better equipped to lead teams towards innovation and success, rather than simply solving problems and assigning blame.
Build a culture of learning
Simple one-and-done compliance training can fall short of this task. Instead, consider how effective it would be to provide ongoing training where frontline managers can continuously explore scenarios where positive behavior can be reinforced. For example, we’ve seen companies deliver scenario-based microlearning modules, directly to where employees and frontline managers work. Each module demonstrates a different type of positive behavior or action that is immediately relevant to the work they’re doing. For example, leading a team huddle and providing feedback and motivation. In turn, employees are encouraged to practice this behavior on the job, discuss it with frontline managers and reflect on potential use cases for the behavior. This type of training delivery is highly engaging, relevant and trackable, as behavior shifts can be identified immediately.
It’s important to note that frontline managers aren’t the only ones responsible for supporting your organization’s culture and values. These need to be communicated and demonstrated across the organization. At the same time, promoting a culture of learning will remind employees and frontline managers that they are all part of a high-functioning, caring team. As L&D professionals, you have the opportunity to lead and promote your organization’s values and learning culture.
Encourage participation and buy-in from leadership so they can contribute to your frontline manager training. The rise in remote work due to the pandemic has complicated things as well. But virtual management training is available to provide L&D the tools and learning content they need to empower frontline managers. In the era of work-from-home and virtual training, it’s now possible to deliver high-engagement soft skills training that’s scalable and affordable.
These are only a handful of examples to bring attention to the need for high-impact frontline manager training. For more in-depth analysis and strategy, contact us so we can discuss your unique training needs and concerns. Together we can help identify the key technical and soft skills that will support your frontline managers, your employees, and your company culture. Our team of learning experts can provide you with effective learning strategies and help build a custom training program, built around the unique learning needs of your frontline managers and your business goals.