The American Society for Training & Development (ATD) Research “Frontline Leaders: Developing Tomorrow’s Executives” (2013) provides us with valuable resources regarding how Frontline Leaders’ (FLLs) abilities and competencies can be developed.
The success of this effort is significant at company level, as FLLs are at the beginning of their managerial career, and most importantly, the link between individual contributors and upper management and thus play a key role in implementing the business strategy. A FLL is a person responsible for leading, developing, and coaching a group of individual contributors.
Usually, unlike other roles, FLLs do not have a transition phase from being an individual contributor to the manager of frontline workers. One of the most important aspects of this transition is changing the mindset from getting the job done to being responsible for the work of others. This means that current skills should be further developed by adding new ones to support new responsibilities, such as basic management, leadership and interpersonal skills.
A formal development process for FLLs is required and 38% of the 513 participants to a survey mentioned in this article made a statement about a process in place, while 20% referred to a work in progress action either as outsourcing (67%) or mixed (28%).
The methods used most often in FLLs’ development are peer coaching, mentoring, self-directed learning and just-in-time training. An effective development method requires the involvement of the learners’ direct supervisors or that of upper management representatives to provide support and guidance.
By using the most appropriate mix of methods and techniques, as well as managers’ involvement in the training process, in accordance with organizational culture and activity specifics, FLLs have the best chance to be successful in their new role.