(Time to read this Blog is about 2.5 minutes)

Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:

  1. My Quote of the week:

“Never take advice from someone who has never made mistakes.  They’re either liars or are totally lacking in self-awareness.”  

 …Donald Cooper.

  1. Quick Biz Tip:  In survey after survey, the companies that are rated the best for ‘customer experience’ are also rated as one of the best places to work in their industry.  This is not a coincidence!   You cannot be a great place for your customers if you’re not a great place to work. 

So, what 4 or 5 things will you do, in the next 6 months, to be a better place to work?  Ask your team for their input. Trust me, they have a list.   Remember, the best people have to work for someone…it’s just that you have to deserve them!  

  1. Only 1% of our population lives on farms.  More efficient machinery, higher-yielding seeds, effective pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer, crop rotation and other farming practices, have dramatically increased the per-acre yield of all crops.

With farms being more productive, fewer farmers are needed to feed the world. In the US and Canada, the percentage of our population living on a farm has shrunk from 25% in 1935 to a mere 1% today, That 1% feeds the other 99%, and exports huge quantities of food to other parts of the world.   

  1. Turning a customer objection into a powerful differentiator.  When on-line dating site eHarmony was criticized for the extended length of their ‘Profile Questionnaire’, they created an ad campaign that asked, Do you want ‘quick’…or do you want ‘forever’?

That is brilliant!  How could you turn your customer objections into a positive differentiator?


Now, to this week’s important topic:


Problems on the ‘front-line’ are almost always a symptom of problems at the top:          

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 problems further up the line…especially if we’re part of the problem.

In over 20 years of coaching businesses around the world, I’ve found that the 8 common management shortcomings listed below cause most of the front-line problems in any business.  Which ones might be apply to your business…and what will you do to fix them?

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.  It’s where most of your people are and where most of the work gets done.

Note:  This project requires a high degree of self-awareness and a great deal of personal courage to see and admit to what’s 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, it will require 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. Micro-managing from the top, or from middle management.
  5. Lack of communication.
  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 ensuring that they have the training, info, tools, empowerment, ‘hugs & 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, at what cost, with what outcomes, measured how.  Finally, implement effectively and follow up diligently.  The world is run by those who follow up!

That’s it for this week…

Stay safe…live brilliantly!       

Donald Cooper 


Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability.  He can be reached by email at donald@donaldcooper.com in Toronto, Canada.

One Response to Problems on the ‘front-line’ are almost always a symptom of problems at the top:
  1. Comment *How very true ….but upper management will not listen as they support their Manager, decisions and incompetence blaming the front line workers


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