The more front liners I meet – around 1000 in the last year - the more ‘disconnect’ I find between managers and front line employees.
Front line folks who REALLY rate their managers tell me their manager spends time with them. The front line employees who are critical of their manager invariably see one of the biggest problems that their manager spends far too much time behind their office door away from front line action.
This is not a surprise to me – it’s what I’ve been saying for more than 30 years.
When I started one of my healthcare jobs in 1989 I spent the first month of the job doing nothing but meeting people who worked on the front line interacting with patients. This was brilliant education for me and it felt like the employees enjoyed the experience of showing this ‘new guy’ the ropes about what they actually do.
I wrote up my feelings about that month and submitted it to my bosses in the form of a report called ‘I’m Pleased I Asked the Questions.” One of the bosses I respected most –sadly now deceased - wrote me a letter in reply that I wish I had kept.
He said this:
‘Trevor – As a manager you have undoubtedly chosen the most difficult route to lead and manage. The most difficult, but the most rewarding. Too many managers take the simple option – they sit behind the comfort of the office door and let the system take the strain. Good luck in your career.’
So here we are in 2009 – 20 years later - nothing changes it seems to me.
Why do some managers not get themselves off their backside – out of the office and talk to their front line folks? They are your greatest teachers.
Maybe it’s just me but this stuff is really simple.