If your company depends on an hourly workforce, your frontline managers can make or break your business. In industries that operate on chronically-slim margins, every detail matters—and that includes every single frontline manager.
There’s no question: so-called “horrible bosses” drive down morale and productivity, while driving up turnover. In contrast, inspirational managers lead their teams to unexpected heights, raising productivity and engagement in even difficult work environments.
Which begs the question: how well do you prepare your managers for the task at hand? Do you only hire those with supervisory experience, or do you promote from within? If you promote your managers from the ranks, do you then provide them with formal training? Or do you expect them to learn on the job?
That’s a big ask. In one survey of 500 managers, 44% reported feeling overwhelmed and undertrained. In fact, two-thirds reported receiving less than eight hours of formal training, and half said they received no training at all.
Of course, when margins are tight, employers can only do so much. So, what skills should you target? What type of training and tools represent your best investment? At the end of the day, how do you measure your managers’ performance, ensuring your efforts are paying off?
Focus on Sharpening Soft Skills
What’s the number one reason workers quit? Simple: because they can no longer tolerate their boss. According to one Gallup study, half of the workforce has left a job for this very reason. But given the current labor shortage, few employers can afford to have workers walk off the job.
In addition to increasing turnover, difficult managers can cause a great deal of damage to your workforce. On the other hand, a good manager knows how to coach employees without micromanaging or belittling them…can communicate openly with all types of people…and will focus on building strengths.
While many great managers have inherently strong people skills, research suggests that soft skills can also be learned—a highly worthwhile investment for otherwise hardworking managers who may be diamonds in the rough.
Learning to Balance Face Time and Paperwork
Recently, a floating manager in the building services industry was assigned a temporary gig, finetuning processes at a troubled client site. She quickly discovered that, of the three first-shift managers on duty, two were usually stationed behind their PCs completing spreadsheets, but rarely making rounds.
The third—who came up through the ranks—spent most of his time out on the floor, supervising workers, but often at the expense of his reports. It took an outsider to see what was off-balance.
Her solution was multi-step:
- To redistribute some of the recordkeeping to the department admin, who was under-utilized.
- To arrange software training for the entire team, so they could complete reports more efficiently.
- To accompany the managers on rounds, so they could watch her coaching and interacting with workers effectively.
- To work with each of them on time management, identifying individual goals for splitting the day between face time and forms-completion time.
Sometimes, managers need hands-on managers, too.
Technology, Tools—and the Training to Use Them Well
Advanced HR technology is one of the most powerful tools available to your frontline managers. It’s not just for Human Resources personnel. Ideally, your managers are trained to get the most from your HR software, too.
For example, an automated time and attendance system can save frontline managers the time and hassle of overseeing and approving timesheets, while scheduling and performance management software can streamline routine administrative tasks—leaving managers more time to actually manage.
Yes, it’s more challenging when you manage an hourly workforce. However, EPAY’s HCM system offers advanced capabilities just for frontline managers in this environment. For example, our real-time alerts—delivered by phone and text—keeps managers on top of workforce activity as it unfolds, even when they’re not onsite. Our workforce management reports can provide the oversight to continually improve their team’s operations, driving productivity.
In addition, our system allows employers to manage their managers in ways other systems don’t. Thanks to our proprietary Workforce Analytics solution, it tracks key performance indicators (KPIs) by manager and/or worksite, so employers can identify:
- Which managers are racking up excessive overtime costs
- How long it takes each manager to close open time-clock punches
- Which managers, if any, are changing punch times and pay rates (which are potential compliance violations).
In short, it can help you identify where your frontline managers excel, and where further training is needed. And if your frontline managers are critical to your business, wouldn’t that be great information to know?