The people who manage your day-to-day operations and motivate teams are often the backbone of your organization, and the culture builders

Frontline managers often go unnoticed by CEOs and other executives. They are the managers most responsible for a company’s success or failure. They are on the shop-floor as supervisors, or lead R&D teams, or manage restaurant chains or call centres. They’re at the very first level of management across a company’s business operations and functions. Depending on its size, a company might have anywhere from 1,000 to 20,000 such managers. Frontline managers often make-up 50% to 60% of a company’s management ranks and directly supervise as much as 80% of the workforce. These people are the eyes, ears and often, the ‘heart’ of your business operations.

What are the responsibilities of a Frontline Manager?

Frontline managers will have various responsibilities depending on the working environment they are in. However, there are common traits that such managers share if they are the right person for the job.

  • Self-aware: Managers who know their strengths, weaknesses, personality traits, limitations and expectations are more likely to interact effectively with others who have different personalities. People who know themselves well tend to be more confident and secure, and do not feel threatened by helping others succeed.
  • Influential: Effective managers are able to use their skills to drive others to achieve their goals through communication and effectively influence the motivations of team members to want to attain goals.
  • Agile Learner: Employees who seek out diverse experiences, who can apply lessons learned to new challenges, and who are able to integrate experiences and adapt them to the working environment make for great managers who can swiftly recognize, analyze, and address new problems.
  • Politically aware: Companies have complex internal politics. Managers who relate well with others, who can foster strong working relationships with other managers and superiors, who understand internal stakeholders, and who can navigate organizational politics to achieve goals are key qualities of frontline managers.
  • Skilled Communicator: Skilled managers are able to listen, speak and write clearly in a way that ensures that superiors, team members, peers, and others are all able to understand the message. One of the most important tasks for managers is communicating goals and achievements.
  • Motivate others: The most successful managers are able to inspire commitment, recognize and reward the contributions of others, and guide teams to complete work, especially when goals are unclear. This may include motivating others to exceed expectations or put in extra effort – without added incentives.

Do You Need Frontline Managers on Your Team?

So before you make a decision about whether such a professional is right for your team, ask yourself:

  • What do you want a frontline manager to change/fix in your organization? What is it that you are missing?
  • Do you not already have the in-house expertise that would help you address the current issues?

This yes/no questions might help clarify if you really need a new team member, or just an internal reshuffle.

Does your team need guidance and motivation?
Are your departments motivated and self-directed?
Are you sure your teams are happy?
Do you have the time to devote to each of your team members, to train them and nurture their career goals?
Are you capable of giving clear direction and allowing your team to execute plans without supervision?
Do you have an established feedback loop with your team/s?
Do your teams rely on you to make the simple, daily decisions?
Do you praise your teams for a job well done?
Are your team/s able to plan for the future with confidence, understanding the goals and values of the company?
Is there a chain of communication from the entry-level position in your company to the executive levels?


If your answers were mostly ‘no’, it might be time to consider how the right new team member could help reshape your business and support its expansion.

However, the catch is that you need to be open as an organization to outside criticism, changes and developments. Assuming you hire a consummate professional, they will join your team, bond with employees and understand how to motivate and rally your team/s.

Taking on frontline managers is essential when you are growing a company. These people should be very knowledgable not only about the job role/s that they are supervising but the company, its structure, the internal politics and the long term goals of the organization.

Promoting from within the organization tends to be the best way to find excellent frontline managers who are well respected and who already understand the personalities of those that they work with. If you must introduce a new person to the role from outside the organization, take care to ensure that you introduce them, explain why the person has been hired from outside the company and how their unique skills can benefit teams and the company.