Frontline Supervisors

As senior leaders in venue management, we know that the overall guest experience hinges on the performance of our frontline employees. They’re our direct pipeline to what’s working, what we need to improve on, and the blueprint we can use to exceed our customer expectations.

But positive results don’t just happen overnight. It takes many hours on the job and a desire to grow, combined with a willingness to learn and a positive attitude in the face of adversity. In order to successfully achieve an organization’s objective and uphold a standard of service, your frontline employees need to be developed, coached, and inspired.

That’s where your frontline supervisors come in.

Given the scope of their roles, the natural tendency for many frontline supervisors is to get caught up in the daily minutia of specific tasks. Attendance, uniforms, breaks, escalated complaints—while all of these are necessary, they don’t always speak to the objectives that a supervisor should have. At the end of the day, we need these key cogs in our organizational wheel to focus on genuinely making a difference for the frontline.

For that to happen, unfortunately, management needs to understand that frontline supervisors have to be included in the growth plans. Unfortunately, this often overlooked group of leaders miss out on elements that they need to feel fulfilled and valued.

Here are four strategies you can rely on when considering who your supervisors are, how they’re performing, ways to reward and recognize them, and what to do to help them evolve.

Recruiting

While hard to acknowledge, sometimes we “back the wrong horse” and put our faith in a supervisor candidate who turns out to be ill-equipped to manage people. That’s why it’s crucial to make smart decisions based on someone’s capacity as a leader—not just a solid employee. In the entertainment and large venue industry, many of our frontline supervisors rise through the ranks. It’s obvious that this career progression is beneficial due to how motivating it can be for some employees. But as an example, though, focus on how the individual interacts with his or her teammates or ways they seek to improve the overall work atmosphere. There are tons of telling signs as to whether or not someone has natural leadership abilities. Remember: It is much more difficult to teach leadership skills than it is to teach job-specific skills!

Performance

To impact on-the-job performance, it’s really important to create a mindset that your frontline supervisors can embody while working in your venue. Not only does this show them that you have a clear vision for their role, but it also empowers them.

For instance, an effective way to demonstrate just how powerful supervisors can be is by encouraging a shift from mentorship to coaching while working with the frontline. A mentor will say, “When I was in your shoes and faced a similar problem, I did this…” A mentor then provides answers and may even go as far as solving the problem for their employees. A coach, however, will help the frontline formulate their own solutions in the moment. Problem solving on the fly and being adaptable are cornerstones of this approach. It’s all about empowering the employee to develop strategies that will equip them with effective habits moving forward.

Reward & Recognition

We spend a lot of time (and money) in an effort to reward and recognize our frontline, and we ask a lot of our supervisors to implement the programs we build. As a result, sometimes we forget to do the same for the supervisors themselves.

How can we expect our supervisors to ignite the frontline and empower our employees to deliver exceptional service if they don’t ever feel the same themselves?

The simple truth is that we can’t. So it’s on management to create a framework for honouring the work of our supervisors.

It’s also extremely important to be sure that your supervisors understand why rewarding and recognizing the frontline is so critical. Reinforcing positive performance can lead to repeat performances in the future, which all add up to a creating a better experience for the guest on a more consistent basis.

Growth & Development

Putting employees in positions of power and leadership isn’t the end of the road in terms of growth and development. In reality, this is a process that should never end for as long as an employee is with the organization. By providing meaningful training and professional development opportunities where supervisors get to work on the skills that they actually use with their teams and customers, we can better guarantee a high-quality experience.

The power of building a team that doesn’t spend their entire shift reacting can really impact your overall service culture. Instead, by providing an infrastructure of learning for your supervisors, you can rest assured that the people leading your frontline will feel equipped to handle whatever situations they face in your venue. This goes a long way in terms of team morale, a willingness to go above and beyond while at work, and most of all, a sense of purpose. FM

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