Every organisation has a hierarchy in its levels of staffing. At the top is the management team, followed by the supervisors, with the frontline employers on the bottom of the stack. Developing a relationship between all is vital. There may not be daily interaction between each level, but working together toward common goals is extremely important.

Communication is necessary. After all, the frontline supervisor must report to management regarding progress toward goals and KPI metrics while engaging, motivating, and encouraging employees on the floor. The supervisor is the go-between that interacts with both upper management and frontline staff, but the relationship between these two levels is necessarily different.

Dealing with Frontline Staff

Open and consistent communication is just as important with frontline staff as it is with senior managers. In fact, it may be more critical in order to squelch gossip and unfounded fears that cause bad behaviour.

Regular and consistent coaching that utilises balanced feedback is the best way to start developing a constructive relationship. Consistency is of utmost importance. It is necessary to spend time each day observing employees, coaching them to encourage critical behaviours, and providing instant feedback with accurate and specific details.

Another note about feedback: it needs to be balanced. No one responds well to constant criticism. In fact, balanced feedback means that the supervisor should relate four positive comments for every one negative during coaching sessions. This is the best way to motivate employees and build a relationship based on mutual respect. It also helps staffers to realise that the supervisor genuinely cares about their performance, another boost to creating a relationship constructive for all involved.

Dealing with Upper Management

Often politics come into play when developing a relationship with superiors. It is important to show respect, but it is also critical that communication is honest and regular. Don’t rely on the manager being the one to guide the relationship but be proactive in encouraging communication that goes beyond reporting and periodic performance reviews.

The more that a frontline supervisor can show his or her ability to effectively manage a staff and regularly meet goals, the easier it is to base this relationship on mutual respect, as well. Successful coaching of frontline staff shows upper management the ability to be trusted with decisions that affect the department. Policy-making should incorporate the ideas of the supervisor, as well. After all, without a frontline performing up to standard, the organisation will not be profitable so its importance cannot be undervalued – and who better understands frontline employees than their supervisor?

Whether the relationship is between the frontline supervisor and his or her employees or upper management, developing a good working relationship is critical to the company’s success, sustainability, and profitability.