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Frontline managers see everyone in your company every day. If your frontline team spends more than 60 minutes of their day increasing value added from their team you are ahead of the average.

Ask yourself:

  • Of the salaried headcount, what percentage are frontline managers?
  • How many associates are they connecting with daily?
  • Of 600 minutes at work, how much of this time is spent improving, teaching, coaching and engaging the team in exceeding the expectations of the customer?

If you don’t know the answer to that question in firm terms, don’t try to guess. Actually observe what they do. If your organization is similar to many you will find frontline management spends their time:

  • Dealing with staffing issues such as call-in’s, no call/no shows, open positions unfilled, transferring employees to help other departments with unplanned issues
  • Reading and responding to emails and texts (work related)
  • Reacting to unplanned, unscheduled disruptions such as downtime, materials shortages, last minute schedule changes
  • At the desk/laptop doing administrative work – time card reconciliation, inventory reconciliation, reporting, doing redundant data entry, vacation and leave requests
  • Going to meetings – average meeting time 30-60 minutes scheduled, value provided/received 10 minutes; often meetings are short notice
  • Checking with 30-40 people 2-3 times per day and dealing with “difficult” personalities
  • Trouble shooting, performing tasks that are team member tasks, going to get things
  • Checking schedule attainment, KPI status

It is equally interesting to observe what support staff does as well. Spend some time observing what the frontline equivalent in HR, Finance, QA, and Maintenance do with their time. Stand near a process that is a pain point or critical for meeting customer needs for 30 minutes. Observe how much time frontline spends in the area and what they do.

Frontline manager salaries average $50,000 not including benefits. If your organization has 450 people, with each supervisor responsible for 30 people, you are spending $750,000 in salaries alone annually for this resource. If you consider this an investment, what would increase the value that first line management return?

What return might be realized if their time were focused and spent on:

  • Aligning the team on what must be delivered, identifying barriers early, removing quickly. Support team resources are engaged at the same time.
  • Engaging the team on gaps to goals, identifying action steps to test during the shift.
  • Improving processes and results with kata and problem solving teams.
  • Teaching and coaching team members.
  • Checking routine process control points at regular intervals, taking defined action based on observations.

Spend some time considering this. Learn where your organization is at. Observe a representative sample of the solid average -above average managers in frontline as well as support staff. Capture the current state accurately. Define the target day, week, and month. Run a test. The test manager is going to need a coach to support the change during the test. Current habits are hard to break. You will learn a lot.