In relation to the whole army, the front-line commanders are in fact several rungs removed from the generals and occupy the lowest post in the chain of command but in the eyes of the ground troops, the front-line officers are the army and the high command. Thus, FLM in its organizational sense is sometimes good-naturedly described as a position caught between a rock and a hard place. For this reason, the roles and responsibilities of FLM are so unlike those of the higher management layers, and that these differ in scope and importance according to the configuration of the organization. This paper gathers evidence to support the view that the smaller and younger the organization, the heavier and more difficult the tasks it imposes on front-line management although the rewards are sparse. Conversely, the FLM job is easier but more rewarding in larger and older organizations. The paper will also attempt to explain why such a curiosity happens.
All managers are required to demonstrate a higher level of skills in planning, organizing, coordinating, communicating and reporting activities; in directing and delegating work; in training, directing, motivating, supporting and disciplining people; and in team building. The need for such skills follows the description of management as getting the work of many done through the guidance of one. More or less the same talents are needed in front-line managers, with some basic differences. ...
Second, the front-line managers are placed right next to the "coal face" being the first layer of management in an organization. In most cases, the FLM position may be the holder's first exposure to management. For these reasons, the front-line managers bear the burden of developing a good working relationship not only with their superiors but also with their subordinates. This particular responsibility spares managers in the upper hierarchy.
Front-line managers go by various designations, among them supervisor, foreman, team leader, office manager and senior administrator. In an organizational context, holders of FLM position are defined as managers with first-line responsibility for a work group of about 10-25 people. They are accountable to top-floor management for the following tasks:
Managing operational costs.
Providing technical expertise.
Organizing, such as planning work allocation and shifts.
Monitoring work processes.
Checking on quality.
Dealing with customers or clients.
Measuring operational performance. (Hutchinson & Purcell online)
The basic elements of the modern FLM role include building and maintenance of an efficient organizational structure, creating and maintaining a productive workforce, and controlling the workflow. A front-line manager is responsible for managing the individual employee as to his performance and professional development as well a to his health and safety at work. The front-line manager must exert an effort to know his team, improve the social relationships among members, and ensure that jobs and people match. Towards these ends, he must monitor the employees' progress and keep an eye out for possible changes by keeping his communication lines open (Mullins,