True leaders know that to be successful in achieving their goals they need people with the skill-set to help make those goals happen.
The frontline leader
There are different layers to every organisation. The frontline leaders are often the 'face' of the organisation when dealing with clients or potential clients. They are also leading the teams that 'get things done'.
These people are sometimes promoted into the role of 'team leader' because they are good at what they do. However they may not always be good at communicating the messages from senior management to their team members. This may be due to the competing demands of their role. It may also be due to the communication barriers that they encounter.
The importance of skill development
Developing the skills of your frontline leaders will enable them to have strategies in place to deal with difficult staff and to be a role model to others within the team. This in turn will help all team members work toward the organisation's goals.
Depending upon their skill-set, the new leader may need assistance with their presentation skills, writing skills or understanding how to communicate effectively with others in a team. It is important that a frontline leader is clear about the direction of the organisation and they are able to communicate all messages well, whether in the written format or verbally.
Becoming the frontline leader after being a team member can be daunting, as effective communication skills are often assumed and not necessarily in place. Often people who have moved from the team member role to the team leader role struggle with that transition. The dynamics between themselves and their former co-workers change.
The new frontline leader may also find that they try to please everyone, resulting in pleasing no-one. Or they may not understand how to communicate with team members who they once avoided, as they were perceived as 'too difficult'. Now they need to not only get along with these people, they need to ensure that the team as a whole is productive.
I have seen some in management positions show reluctance to train new frontline leaders because, 'if we train them up then they'll just leave and find another job'. The fear of losing an employee if they 'know too much' is much worse than developing that person's abilities.
The repercussions of not developing the skills and knowledge of staff, so that they can take on new responsibilities, are much greater than many people realise. Imagine having a team that has a frontline leader who is not able to communicate their message well. Each of their messages is important yet the end result is invariably confusion or disregard for what needs to be done.
The team members will become disgruntled. The frontline leader will eventually feel the burden and frustration of everything they are trying to do and possibly experience 'burn out'. The likely end result will be that goals are not met, team members are unhappy and the frontline leader may just leave. And what about your clients? Team members who are unhappy in their work environment will reflect this emotion when dealing with clients and potential clients. No one wins in this situation.
To quote Richard Branson,
"Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don't want to."
Key areas for development
Developing an employee's skills is about training and mentoring. Training provides your new frontline leader with the opportunity to look at their role and responsibilities from a different perspective. Mentoring within the workplace helps them to feel they have a support network and are valued in their role.
When a new frontline leader learns to communicate effectively with others they become more confident in everything that they do. They actively work toward achieving the goals of the organisation to the benefit of everyone. It's a win-win situation.
Are you helping your frontline leaders to reach their full potential?