So, if you are director, go out with the sales team. If you are an engineer, work at the factory assembling line. If you are an architect, work construction. If you are a practice manager, work the front desk.
Working the front lines…
- Helps managers gain first hand insight into what customers/patients want, what they call about, what their complaints are, what they like and dislike about the office, the product and the service.
- Brings awareness of all the task required of the front line. In our medical practice, we give the front desk a lot to do. Working along side helps us put into perspective everything we ask them to do. First hand account encourages managers to think twice before giving front line employees more things to do.
- Provides an opportunity to lead by example. Ever had to put together furniture or assemble a toy for your children? The instructions are helpful, but the pictures of how to put together everything are much better. Working the front line helps demonstrate how things are supposed to be done. And who better to show them how it is done, if not you.
- Enables one to reinforce protocol. Let’s face it, front line employees sometimes get sloppy. They start cutting corners, overlook things and get lazy. They’ll complain why they don’t have time to dot the i’s and cross the t’s. But by having a presence, one is able to underpin the importance of certain things.
- Creates and opportunity to train employees. Leading by example and reinforcing protocol are essentially opportunities to train. Furthermore, give front line employees the tools and resources they need in order to do their job better.
- Fosters communication. Communication is the staple of business, right? But we don’t always do it very well. Spending time and working alongside with the front lines creates a different kind of opportunity to communicate. It is one thing to discuss things in a meeting or in your office; but there is something to be said about talking with employees on their turf.
- It helps me earn respect and gain authority. Remember Mel Gibson’s movie Brave Heart or Russell Crowe’s Gladiator? In both these movies Gibson’s and Crowe’s character fought side-by-side with their subordinates. Despite having leadership roles, the characters chose to be on the front lines, and as a result, their men respected them.
Working the front lines gives you a better insight into your customers, into your employees and frankly into the business. It is one thing to make decision and affect change from your office and it is another thing seeing first hand how those decisions get played out in the real world.
Do you ever work the front-lines? Have you learned any valuable lessons as a result? Or do you think working the front desk is a waste of time? What are your thoughts on this subject?