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What is a line manager?

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Last editedMar 20212 min read

Line managers perform an important role in the day-to-day operations of any business. What is a line manager, and how do their duties differ from other levels of management? Here’s a closer look at what’s involved.

Line managers explained

Line managers work on the front lines of a business, supervising junior staff members and reporting to upper management. Depending on the type of company, they might also be called team leaders or supervisors.

A line manager might only account for a single staff member or they may supervise an entire team. In any case, they provide the first point of contact for direct reports, acting as the go-between for senior leaders, workers, and the HR department.

The role of line managers in business

You’ll find line managers in a wide range of organisations, from major corporations to shops and restaurants. No matter the setting, the role of line managers involves acting as the liaison between the business’s frontline workers and executive management.

Senior management takes care of developing business strategies, but it’s up to the line manager to implement these in real life. Line managers develop strong working relationships with team members, actively managing and supervising them to ensure all targets are met.

In a retail setting, a line manager will often work side-by-side with floor workers. This makes them well-placed for identifying problems as they arise, bringing strategic issues to the executive manager’s attention. With a detailed working knowledge of business processes, line managers often progress to higher management roles.

Top line manager responsibilities

We’ve looked at the general role of a line manager, but what are their specific duties? A good manager will not only need to implement strategies from the top down and handle information, but also deal with people management.

Here are a few of the main line manager responsibilities:

From coaching to productivity, the line manager responsibilities include a far-reaching range of duties. These will depend on the industry, department, and size of the team. It’s the line manager’s job to ensure all employees are doing their jobs efficiently.

Line management skills

A good line manager needs to maximise employee performance with effective management skills. While this type of position involves working in close proximity to frontline workers, it’s not about doing the frontline work. Keeping this in mind, line management skills include the following:

  • Ability to delegate

  • Prioritisation of tasks

  • Excellent communication

  • Motivational skills

  • Organisational skills

  • Attention to detail

As you can see, communication skills are probably the most important for line managers, who must effectively transmit executive messaging to frontline workers. They’re also responsible for keeping staff motivated, communicating any changes to current processes and ensuring that all staff are adequately trained.

But at the same time, line management is increasingly data-driven, with software on hand to measure performance. Hard numbers are a useful reference tool when compiling performance reports. Data can also give valuable insight into scheduling, as you can see what is accomplished within specific timeframes. Evaluating data allows managers to develop new, streamlined systems to further boost productivity within the business.

Finally, line managers must be excellent problem solvers. They keep morale high by quickly determining what has gone wrong with productivity or performance drops. Either by communicating directly with team members or analysing the data, they’re able to quickly pinpoint unusual activity patterns or slowdowns. After identifying problems, they must use their problem-solving skills to work out potential solutions and communicate new strategies both to upper management and frontline staff.

Overall, a successful line manager blends hard and soft skills to maximise their team’s performance.

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