Your frontline produces the bottomline

Your frontline produces the bottomline

Improving strategic execution by engaging frontline employees

In rapidly changing markets, companies need agility and speed to stay relevant. This coupled with increasing business uncertainty and complexity has given CEOs a daunting task. Why? CEOs and top executives at the highest corporate level, while being bombarded with ever-growing demands from their stakeholders, feel "challenged and stressed" in executing their must win strategic initiatives.

Without the helping hands from their lower corporate ranks and frontline employees, achieving success is near impossible. Corporations realize this, especially through the pandemic, as essential services are primarily delivered by the frontline. Frontline employees who stay closest to operations or customers, are critical to business success. Yet, various studies have shown many of them lack adequate training and skills needed to take this higher responsibility.

Frontline Produces Bottomline

As every business is dependent on their customers loyalty and profitability, frontlines are ultimately the ones who produce the bottomline. Yet, a key challenge is to engage these people who form the majority of an organization's workforce, to have a clear understanding on the company's top priorities and strive to make them happen. This requires continuous learning and development at all levels so that managers and team leaders can unleash the creativity and full potential of their frontline. In short, the frontline needs to be "emotionally engaged" to the organization.

Emotional engagement goes beyond monetary rewards such as bonus, welfare and salary. It requires the art and skill of building "intrinsic motivation" which involves intangible values such as; a sense of purpose, contribution, recognition and valuing different roles individuals play.  

To create intrinsic motivation, leaders need to intentionally design, execute and nurture the following three elements as part of corporate culture:

1. Alignment between Operational Performance and Business Performance

The lack of this alignment is not uncommon in organizations.  This is because senior executives will usually give their utmost priorities on business performance issues such as growth, cash flow and profit, while operational or lower-ranked staff will tend to focus on their day-to-day jobs and responsibilities such as to produce or deliver their products and services as required (quality-wise and quantity-wise), tackle and solve daily problems, etc. While there is nothing wrong with operational or frontline staff taking full responsibility of their specific tasks and duties,  the company's top priorities and goals may not necessarily be achieved, if a majority of the workforce does not know and understand the linkage between their daily jobs and the company's top priorities and goals.

To check if your organization lack this alignment, ask your team these three questions:

  • What are the top three priorities of the organization in your point of view?
  • What is the most important goal of your supervisor/manager?
  • How does your team's most important goal contribute to success of your organization's and your boss's targets?

2.Build a Measurement System Driven by Motivation (not Control)

"People play differently when they are keeping score."  Like in sports, people will play to win if they know how they are getting the scores, and the connection between their performance and reaching their goal.

While engagement drives results, results can also drive engagement. Nothing affects morale and engagement more powerfully than when a person feels that they are winning. The system should also include "lead and lag measures" that the team has to execute in order to reach the goal.

3.Intentionally Design to Make Everyone Feel they Achieve Something Everyday

When was the last time you felt that you "achieved something that really matters?" I often ask this question to people whom I meet. Everyone seems to like to have this "feeling" as often possible. This feeling helps motivate people to make and strive for greater achievement. On the other hand, many people might never or rarely have this feeling. If we can change this just a little bit, your organization's productivity and results can be significantly improved.

That is why sport organizers have designed running contests with different distances - from a fun run (5 km), to mini-marathon (10 km), half-marathon (21 km) to full marathon (42 km) to help people feel achievement along their journey towards more challenging goals.

Interestingly, there is a company that has mimic the running world by designing their organizational system to allow their people to challenge themselves towards ever-greater organization goals.  The accounting & finance department of this company managed to contribute to their company's sales during the pandemic by initiating an online sales platform by themselves; and quickly able to generate several hundred thousands baht sales in a few months. Although sales contribution might  be small compared to their sales counterparts, what they gain more is the emotional engagement of their people. The ability of non-sales team members being able to contribute to sales for the company. This becomes a strong foundation for them to accomplish greater achievements in the future.

In summary, a good execution system comes by design, not by a chance. Execution is all about people's hearts, that leaders can bring about through engagement and motivation.

PacRim Group is the exclusive representative of FranklinCovey in Thailand.  For more information please contact K. Wareerat, Tel. 086 878 8936 or Email: 

Krit Leelalertumpai

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