frontline manager skills businessperson with briefcase

Though 77 percent of executives say frontline managers are crucial in helping their business reach its goals, only 12 percent of executives actually invest in growing and developing frontline managers.

How can you recruit the best candidates for the job and better develop their roles? We’re here to provide some insight with the top five frontline manager skills you should hire for.

What Do Frontline Managers Focus On?

Frontline managers can comprise approximately 60 percent of a company’s managers and supervise up to 80 percent of the company’s workforce. Central to your organization’s business strategies, frontline managers focus on finding efficient ways to execute those same strategies. They ensure your employees are meeting day-to-day goals that help improve your bottom line.

This might involve:

  • Coaching employees and instilling morale so teams can create and sell products/services to the best of their abilities
  • Making day-to-day decisions
  • Using judgment and discretion on new processes and improvements
  • Keeping upper management teams in the loop on all the latest developments and issues

5 Required Skills for Frontline Managers

Because frontline managers are critical to your business’s success, you need to make sure you hire the right people for the job. We’ve provided five key frontline manager competencies you should look for during the recruitment process.

For each skill, we’ve listed some helpful interview questions for this leadership position. We understand every company is different, so we encourage you to customize the questions in a way that best aligns with your culture and industry.

1. Team Building

Being a frontline manager isn’t about being a dictator—it’s about being able to provide guidance. Good managers should understand how to provide meaningful feedback, facilitate responsibilities, and leverage the strengths of each employee.

Interview Questions

Consider asking these three questions during an interview:

  • Describe a time you had to lead by example. What was the outcome of your leadership?
  • What are your tactics for winning the respect of new team members?
  • How would you motivate a team that feels overworked?

2. Communication

Because frontline managers supervise and interact with people at all levels of your organization, they need to be willing to interact with multiple personality types. They should have strong communication skills that help employees understand exactly what needs to be done. This requires the ability to listen, speak, and write clearly.

Interview Questions

To help you gauge whether frontline manager candidates have the right communication skills, ask them:

  • What does good/effective communication mean to you?
  • What are some of the barriers you’ve had to overcome to create effective communication?
  • Describe a time when you had to talk about sensitive information. How did you do it?
  • When was a time you had to explain a complex problem/task to an employee? How did you explain it?

3. Problem Solving & Customer Service

Whenever an employee raises an issue or concern, the first person they will report to is your frontline manager. Your manager should be quick to dive into problems and come up with realistic solutions. These solutions should make both the employee and customer feel comfortable and evoke trust.

Interview Questions

Here are some ways to ask them about their experience with problem-solving and customer service:

  • Tell us about a time when an employee raised a concern about a customer. How did you manage the situation?
  • Describe a time when members of your team weren’t getting along. What did you do to aid in a solution to this type of challenge?
  • What does good customer service mean to you?

4. Adaptability

In today’s dynamic and digital work environment, quality frontline managers should have the knack for keeping up with technological shifts. Not only are they creative and open when it comes to finding new processes, but frontline managers are also quick learners and able to pass their knowledge on to others.

Interview Questions

To gain a good sense of how flexible your prospective frontline managers can be, consider asking them:

  • Describe a time when a plan or strategy you had in mind didn’t work. What were some of your ideas on how to overcome this hurdle? What was your solution?
  • Tell me a time when you had to learn a new system or software at work. What were some of the biggest challenges?
  • What are some of the biggest hurdles you faced when starting a new job? What did you do to better adapt to your role and develop your frontline management skills?

5. Strategic Goal Setting & Execution

When your frontline managers are knowledgeable about your organization’s core values and mission, they should have the ability to develop goals that align with them. Moreover, they should be able to measure these goals by establishing proper milestones.

Whether the goal is to boost sales or provide better customer service, a good frontline manager can accurately identify how to accomplish their duties and distribute responsibilities accordingly.

Interview Questions

Here are a few ways you can find out how experienced potential hires are in strategizing and executing goals:

  • What were some goals you established in your previous role, and how did you get your whole team to contribute to those goals?
  • Describe a few milestones you set up to help your team achieve their goals.
  • What are some major accomplishments you achieved in your previous role?

Build Your Roadmap to Success with CMOE

Investing in the growth and success of your frontline managers should never be an afterthought. If you’d like to learn more ways to develop frontline managers at your organization, check out CMOE’s supervisor development programs. Our frontline manager training helps your managers gain the necessary skills to improve performance and exceed expectations.

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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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