BearingPoint: Actively managing staff leads to success

19 February 2015

Front-line managers play a decisive role in improving business performance with up to a 20% increase in recurring productivity to be gained through active management techniques, recent research from the BearingPoint Institute discloses. Given that 80% of managers are front-line managers*, the importance of their efficacy in their respective positions cannot be understated.

To gain insight into the most effective performance of a front-line managerial role, the BearingPoint Institute analysed the way in which 10,000 front-line managers spent their time over a period of 20 years at 40 blue chip companies. The key insight from the vast trove of data is that front-line managers are at their most effective when they are active managers - with transforming front-line managers into active managers, key to increasing productivity and organisational performance.

According to Brendan Cahill, Partner at BearingPoint UK and author of the study, the difference between an ‘active’ front-line manager and a ‘passive’ one is the respective time spent helping their subalterns develop an effective performance - in their daily routine roles - through actively coaching, guidance, assisting and supporting their staff. Typical front-line managers spend about 35% of their time on administration, 22% of their time inactive, and are actively managing no more than 25% of their time. For ideal results, the consulting firm states, front-line managers need to be spending in excess of 60% of their time actively managing their staff.

Typical frontline manager vs active manager

The problem, according to the report, why so few front-line managers are equipped with the skills or capacity to deliver effective active managerial engagement over their subalterns, stems from the way in which front-line managers are promoted. Promotion to front-line positions is often the result of professionals’ high performance in pre-management roles, irrespective of whether they are well suited for management. This creates ‘accident’ managers, and many of those managers who are “typically ill equipped to perform successfully in their new role.”

Front-line managers supervise up to 80% of the workforce

To develop an effective order of front-line managers, the passively performing managers themselves need to undergo active management, with the key to transforming these managers “a combination of up front development coupled with on-going mentoring and coaching for a period of at least 12 weeks.” This plan, according to the research, led to “performance gains of up to 30% within their teams in just 12 weeks.”

Cahill remarking that: “Successful businesses are those that increase productivity. Front-line managers actively managing have the potential to unlock substantial, recurring operational improvements within their teams. In most organizations, it is an opportunity that is largely ignored.”

 * According to the Harvard Business Review.