Everyone involved in a business plays a vital part in making that business successful, from the janitor right through to the CEO. One such important factor in smooth running businesses are line managers. Found in all manner of professions, a line manager is a common job that plays a vital role in maintaining employee satisfaction, ensuring work is completed, solving issues and keeping the business going.
Despite their importance to a well-run company, 53% of people rate the overall performance of their organisation’s line managers as “less than good.”[i] So, what actually is a line manager? And what skills does one need to be successful in the job, and give their employees a satisfactory work experience? Here’s everything you need to know about line management:
What Is a Line Manager?
A line manager ranks just above employees in the hierarchy of business and is directly responsible for managing at least one other member of staff. The line manager will oversee the normal tasks of the team that they manage, providing guidance and support and acting as a link between their employees and those of higher authority in the business.
Should anyone under the line manager’s responsibility have an issue, they will be the first port of call. The line manager themselves will report back to a higher member of staff.
What Are a Line Manager’s Responsibilities?
Although a line manager’s duties may change depending on the job, there are several things that a line manager is all but guaranteed to be doing daily. The common responsibilities of a line manager include:
- Managing employees
- Helping them hit their targets
- Planning and carrying out staff training
- Planning out employee development
- Coaching and mentoring the team
- Liaising with senior management
- Reporting on team performance
- Holding annual reviews
- Lead meetings
- Overseeing budget lines
- Approving holidays
- Conducting job interviews
- Hiring new team members
What Are Good Skills for A Line Manager to Have?
Being a line manager can be a particularly difficult job at times, especially if they’re managing a large team. There are plenty of staff-related responsibilities attached to the job, plus they have to complete their own work while watching over everyone else’s. However, a line manager gets to know everybody, help them succeed and provides support, making it a particularly rewarding role for the right person. Some of the skills that make a good line manager include:
- Communication – Poor communication with line managers can unsettle employees. A line manager acts as buffer between the employees and those with a higher authority, and employees need to feel as though they are being listened to and understood. If a line manager can’t communicate effectively with their employees or management, the team morale could seriously drop.
- Prioritisation – A line manager has to consider the future aims just as much as the day’s responsibilities, so must set priorities according to the company goals in the long term as well as day to day objectives. Being able to prioritise the team’s workload will also mean targets are hit and work is completed well within its time frame.
- Delegation – Being able to delegate tasks properly is important in the role of line manager since the organisation of the team’s work falls on them. Parcelling out tasks fairly and giving everyone a reasonable amount of work to complete will result in a smooth running business and leave enough time to move things around should it be required.
- Realistic – Providing a practical workload that employees will be able to complete to the best of their ability is vital, as is being realistic in the line managers requests of the team. On top of this, a line manager should also ensure that they’re taking on their fair share of the work too.
- Analytical – Analysing performance data is part of the role of a line manager, so being able to read and understand this easily will allow better communication with management as well as the team. Analytical skills also help monitor employees progress, meaning any issues can be caught before they get out of the hand.
- Organised – The role of line manager involves plenty of planning ahead, delegating tasks and managing time well. If a line manager is disorganised, this is likely to filter through into the team, leading to a disaster that it is best to avoid. Having good organisational skills means the line manager will remain in control and have more room for daily surprises, showing their employees that they are in safe hands.
- Knowledgeable – A line manager must have a basic knowledge of the business as a whole, with a clear understanding of how each sector works. This well-rounded knowledge allows them to provide efficient and speedy solutions to any problems that may arise without disturbing other members of the team.
- Supportive – Employees need support and constructive criticism from someone who wants them to succeed. Giving reliable, high-quality feedback and being readily available to provide it will help employees feel valued and encourage them to hit their goals.
- Trustful – Micromanaging can be a huge hindrance between line managers and employees. A good line manager will understand that leaving employees to do their job will make them more comfortable in what they are doing, leading to better results and better capability next time.
How To Be the Best Line Manager
Depending on their industry, all line managers will work slightly differently. Despite this, there are several things that all line managers should be able to do to be successful in the job, no matter the type of work they do. Here are some tips to help anyone become a decent line manager:
Listen To Your Team
A line manager represents their team, and not being able to listen and understand them is likely to cause problems. Getting to know all the members of staff in the team, understanding their goals and becoming familiar with their personalities will build trust and help a good line manager support them to produce the best work.
Employees will look towards a line manager for guidance in their day-to-day work tasks, and it’s important that they are provided with honest feedback, expectations, and updates about the business. Keeping employees in the loop and showing integrity, even in the hardest of situations, will make for a greater appreciation of a line manager and improvements in work and attitudes.
Give Good Feedback
A line manager needs to maintain morale and happiness within their team, so letting staff know that they’re performing well and you’re proud of them is essential. Knowing that they’re doing good work will encourage employees to continue to do so, maintaining high standards and keeping the business running well. On the other hand, being able to honestly tell someone that there are things they could improve on is just as important. Giving constructive feedback in the right way – calmly, with explanations and suggestions on how to do better – is a component of a successful line manager.
Delegate Work Well
Being able to delegate work equally and clearly will create a more motivated team and have more successful results. Giving people the right amount of work for them to complete with comprehensible instructions will also lead to less stress on a line manager’s part, meaning less micromanaging and a happier office space.
Ultimately, as the line manager, you will be held responsible for the work of your team, and not allowing yourself to be held accountable will lead to a significant lack of respect. Take responsibility for mistakes of the team (within reason, of course) and show that you are working towards tackling the issues should they reappear.
As a good line manager, you should want all members of your team to succeed and progress further. Working on development plans for employees to help them further their career, even if it isn’t under your management in the end, and inspiring them to consistently improve is a sign of a line manager destined for success.
Take Part In A Training Course
To learn all the skills you will need to be a top-class line manager, there are many management courses that can give you a boost in the right direction. Not only will a management course assist you in becoming a better line manager, but it will also provide you with the knowledge and skills necessary to further your career in the future.
Do You Have What It Takes?
Being a line manager is an extremely rewarding role. They get to see people flourish from an interviewee and push them up the next rungs of the ladder in their career, but it is a particularly hard job. There are so many tasks that the role entails, and if someone isn’t the right fit for the position, there is likely to be disastrous effects on the team that they manage. Now you know what a line manager is, their responsibilities, and the skills they require, do you think you have what it takes?