Front line managers
An organisation's effectiveness relies on the quality of management and administrative procedures it has in place. The employee's first port of call when it comes to learning how the organisation operates is their immediate supervisor. The management skills demonstrated at this level bear directly on the effectiveness of the individual and the team.
Front line managers usually are the first level of management and may manage one employee or a large number. The role of the manager often includes managing:
- Work rotas
- Quality and operational performance
- Customer care
Whatever the size of the organisation managers need to be consistent, fair and flexible about the way they treat their staff as they often have responsibility for:
- Disciplinary and attendance issues
- Communication - providing a link to senior management
- Organising staff rotas / team meetings
- Choosing staff to attend training courses
- Taking part in staff recruitment
- Writing staff reports
- Ensuring company policies and procedures are adhered to
Front line managers are best placed to talk to employees, to listen to their concerns, to counsel and coach, to check employees meet their targets and to ensure they are committed to the business. For further information please see the Acas advisory booklet - Front line managers.
Managing performance is a continuous process which involves making sure that the performance of employees contributes to the goals of their teams and the business. Good performance management helps everyone know:
- What the business is trying to achieve
- Their role in helping the business achieve its goals
- The competences they need to carry out their role
- The standards of performance required
- How they are doing
- When there are performance issues and what to do about them
- How they can develop their performance
Where a performance management system is working well employees are more likely to engage with the goals of the business. You should manage performance consistently and treat all staff fairly; decisions should be based on merit.
There are three aspects to planning an individual's performance:
- Objectives which the employee is expected to achieve
- Competencies or behaviours - these are the way in which employees work towards their objectives
- Personal development - the development needed in order to achieve objectives and realise their potential.
Reviewing performance is a continuous process, however, regular informal meetings throughout the reporting year can help to recognise achievement or to encourage progress and identify any possible problems. Both employees and line managers should keep records of achievements and development activities.
For further information on performance management and sample performance records and examples of competencies go to the How to manage performance.
Managing attendance problems often means tackling possible causes of absence, such as working patterns, job design and employment relations. This can also include addressing discipline problems like lateness and poor time keeping. If such issues should arise, they can often be dealt with informally by the line manager in the first instance.
Find out more about absence training.
Questions and Answers
What makes an effective supervisor?
The role of a supervisor, first line manager or team leader is to achieve tasks by planning, controlling and motivating members of their work group. Supervisors need to gain the commitment and co-operation of each individual.
It will help if they:
- get to know all members of the group and respect them as individuals
- give people an aim by setting agreed and achievable targets and keeping them informed of how well they are doing
- keep the group informed of any changes
- tell people the reasons for doing a job
- be approachable: listen to suggestions and grievances and consult people
- give specific praise where it is due
- provide leadership.
- look after the interests of your group
- ensure that their working environment is safe and clean
- set a good example
What's the difference between a supervisor and a manager?
Supervisors are part of the first line of management. Traditionally they have often been referred to as foremen, charge hands or superintendents - these terms are still used in some organisations today. However, it is becoming more common for employers to see their supervisors as 'team leaders' or 'first line managers' and to use these terms to describe them.
Whatever their title, supervisors direct and guide others in the performance of tasks. Their traditional role, of planning and controlling the pace of work, is changing with the introduction of new technologies and changes in working practices. For instance, the growth of areas such as work study and quality control combined with increasing use of set procedures has eroded some supervisors' responsibilities for decision making and problem solving. Also some organisations now ensure that their supervisors are team leaders in briefing groups, quality circles and consultative committees, and help resolve grievance and disciplinary issues.
What is a personal development plan?
A personal development plan is where developments needs are normally set out. The plan should include:
- The development need
- How the development will be achieved
- When the development will be achieved
- How the achievement will be measured
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