(Time to read this blog article about 60 seconds)

What happens on your ‘front line’ has a huge impact on your bottom line.  But, when things go wrong on the front line, it’s almost always a symptom of problems further up in the organization.  And, sadly, it’s always easier to blame the front-line folks than it is to look for and deal with the real problem further up the line…especially if we’re the problem.

In over 20 years of coaching businesses around the world I’ve found that the eight common management shortcomings listed below cause most of the front-line problems in any business.  Which ones might be at work in your business…and what will you do about it?

Keep in mind that the ‘front line’ is not just where we interact with our customers. There is a ‘front line’ in the warehouse, the accounting department, in manufacturing…and in every other part of the business.

Note:  This project requires a high degree of self-awareness and a great deal of personal courage to see and admit to what is really preventing your front-line people from doing their job wonderfully.  Then, it will also require some considerable wisdom in knowing how to fix what needs fixing and, finally, persistence in implementing and following up.  Use the boxes on the left to check off any of the challenges listed that may be hurting the effectiveness of your front line people.

Our ‘front-line’ problems are most likely caused by one or more of the following:

  1. Lack of clear expectations, indecision, mixed messages or conflict at the top.
  2. A lack of urgency or caring at the top.
  3. Toxic leadership style at the top. Toxic or lazy middle management.
  4. Poor communication.
  5. Micro-managing from the top, or from middle management.
  6. Not investing in systems & processes required to deliver efficient, consistent and extraordinary outcomes on the front line.
  7. Not hiring the right people and then ensuring that they have the training, tools, empowerment ‘hugs and rewards’ to do their job wonderfully.
  8. Failure to deal with non-performance. ‘Bad apples’ are allowed to stay and pollute the entire group.

Final Note: Many businesses actually set up their front-line employees to fail through one or more of these 8 shortcomings. How does your business rate and what will you do to fix what needs fixing? Involve some of the best minds and hearts in your business in this important exercise. Encourage them to be frank and open in their comments. Listen intently and calmly and ‘thank’ them for their courage and insight in speaking their truth. Then, decide what action will be taken, by whom, by when, measured how. Finally, implement effectively and follow up diligently.

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