The McKinsey quarterly has an interesting article which says that frontline managers should shift their focus from adminstrative tasks to coaching their employees.
As the article says:
Found in almost any company, such managers are particularly important in industries with distributed networks of sites and employees. These industries—for instance, infrastructure, travel and logistics, manufacturing, health care, and retailing (including food service and retail banking)—make up more than half of the global economy.
Vyaktitva has done path breaking work in this area using an intervention that focuses on building a front line manager’s ability to understand the aspirations of his/her team member and to develop the ability to coach them.
Here’s a case study on how Vyaktitva did this for a client in business process outsourcing industry.
Developing the First Line Leader – A Force Multiplier
A BPO client of Vyaktitva was a pioneer in the industry. The BPO industry was young and dynamic. It grew at a rapid rate in its initial years; this resulted in a lot of learning, standardization of systems but also brought with it a set of challenges.
Rapid growth and attrition had resulted in a lot of young associates / agents getting promoted to the team leader role very quickly. Their teams typically consisted of 12-15 associates in the age group of 20-27 yrs; at times some of the team leaders had team members who were more experienced and older than them. The client was facing a lot of attrition within these teams which was also impacting business. Vyaktitva was invited to come in and design an intervention that addressed attrition.
As a part of the ADDIE process Vyaktitva met a cross section of stakeholders to identify the real cause of attrition.
The analysis clearly indicated that the team leaders were young and did not possess either the experience or the skills to handle the people related issues of their teams. Detailed analysis around some key indicators further revealed that the team leader was specifically unable to understand the aspirations of his team members.
The team members expected their team leader to understand their aspirations and help them achieve their potential. This was a key skill required in team leaders that was leading to attrition.
Vyaktitva realized that building skills that helped team leaders identify team member aspirations and address them needed to be a process; looking at it as a one off training program would not give the desired results. Vyaktitva designed an intervention that built these skills as a process.
The intervention started with pre-work that the participants were required to complete over 2 weeks. The team leaders had to follow a pre-defined process and work along with their team members to complete this pre-work. The pre-work formed a part of the workshop; during the 3 days of the workshop participants applied learnings from each session through a customised tool called the “Real World Connect Document”
Each participant could therefore apply learning on the floor.
The workshop also required participants to take targets on controlling attrition. They were required to share the “Real World Connect Document” with their supervisors; the attrition control targets and action plans were discussed before being signed off by the team leader and supervisor.
The post training process also had two check points that assessed progress against interim milestones. The first check point was assessed after fifteen days and the second after forty five days. Team leaders were certified only if they had managed to achieve their attrition control targets.
The teams and processes that went through the intervention showed dramatic drop in attrition.
The ability to understand team member aspirations and address them actually helped the organization manage attrition.