Unless you're at the very top of your business there is always someone to answer to and there are usually people who answer to you further down the line. Sometimes this two-way street can become minefield of office gossips, politics and general bad behaviour. As a frontline leader how do you ensure that you create genuine relationships with your manager and your direct reports that are good for business?
It's not about being the nice guy, although manners never go astray! Building a genuine working relationship take time and effort and revolves around respect. Starting with your direct reports the best place to start is to develop a habit of providing balanced feedback.
The key to giving balanced feedback is to make sure that it's timely. You need to give it there and then – do not wait until the end of the week, or for the weekly catch up. It's relevant in the moment. When you're in the moment giving the feedback you also need to make sure it's accurate and detailed. Do not just give a vague, great job response. Make sure you drill down into the behaviour that is being done well, that will meet your goals. These are the critical behaviours required to lift performance from average to high performer.
With a good technique of delivering feedback you then need to concentrate on the ratio. Unfortunately it is human nature to comment mostly on the things that need correcting or changing, and only occasionally give positive feedback. And, when we do give positive feedback it is often nothing more than a pat on the back with 'great job' attached to it.
The most effective ratio for frontline leaders to their people is to provide at least four positive comments to every corrective comment. Your people will gradually begin to realise that with your genuine feedback you are really making a difference to how they do their job, and helping them to perform better.
Building a constructive relationship with the manager you report to is just as important as the people who report to you. Do not leave it to your manager to ensure this relationship works, you need to do your share of the work.
As organisations give more responsibilities to their frontline leaders this relationship comes into its own. Your manager can delegate some of their activities to you, such as policies that affect frontline employees. Given the creative scope, the appropriate support and coaching from a second-level manager, frontline leaders have far more to contribute to your average organisation than most senior leaders give them credit for.
Genuine relationships form the ground work for engaged employees, and engaged employees go the extra mile in their work and are open to change. It's not only good for business but it's good for sustainably improving your business.