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How Coaching Frontline Managers Can Help Drastically Increase Your Throughput and More

Philippe Gautrin
Management coaching: a powerful tool to increase productivity

To perform at their best, businesses in many sectors such as logistics and supply chain, agri-food, aerospace, manufacturing, and construction must adapt to the fluctuations of a changing market while complying with the most stringent standards.

The agility they need relies on optimized business processes and a strong management team to rely on daily. Coaching front-line managers is a powerful ally to achieve this.

In this article:

What is front-line management coaching?

Front-line management coaching is a human resource development practice that aims to develop front-line leaders' management and coaching skills.

The coaching process relies on on-site mentoring, i.e. the presence of a professional coach shadowing the manager as they perform their daily tasks.

When the coach observes the manager in action, they evaluate their management skills and guide them through developing new management behaviors. The result is empowering managers on all levels to manage their teams' performance.

The coach helps the manager to integrate new behaviors, based on best management practices until they become management reflexes.

The relationship between coach and coachee allows for this integration, not only because of the proximity but also because of the connections drawn between the required behaviors and the natural abilities of the manager as well as the objectives of the organization.

Besides helping the manager with time management and steering their team's performance according to a leadership development plan, coaching skills can also help with problem-solving, emotional intelligence, stress management, and other higher-level issues. This is called executive coaching and specializations exist among professional coaches as well as mentoring.

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Training vs coaching: going from good to great

Training is about teaching theoretical and practical knowledge, for example, about the front-line manager's role and key topics for organizational performance.

For a training program to lead to a sustainable improvement in performance, this knowledge must be transformed into management behaviors, adopted by managers, and maintained over time.

Although very effective in developing knowledge, training programs alone do not, however, ensure that best practices are sustained.


By supporting managers in their daily work, a good coach helps anchor the desired behaviors by transforming them into habits or, better yet, reflexes. When the best management practices are so deeply integrated that they become natural behaviors, the results on the organization's performance are tenfold, in a sustainable way.

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Why is coaching important for managers?

Front-line managers are often excellent operations employees who have risen through the ranks in their career development to oversee the activities in their area. They have profound technical knowledge, but little management know-how and skill.

Research conducted over the past two decades indicates that 62% of managers (including front-line managers) have weak or very weak management skills.


Why you should invest in front-line management coaching

Our data also shows that businesses that have implemented a strong management coaching culture have seen tangible and sustainable results*:

  • 15% improvement in productivity

  • 34% cost reduction in product waste

  • 10% improvement in indirect labor costs

* Real statistics from Proaction International’s clients in 12 countries over the last 2 decades.

Bottom line: human resource development such as improving management skills is a low-hanging fruit for businesses that need to improve their performance.

One more key point: It's a solution that leverages existing workforce talent, instead of requiring the hiring of additional team members or major investments in technology and equipment to increase throughput.

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How front-line management coaching improves business performance

Organizations win on all fronts when they offer their first-level managers support in their professional development through coaching sessions so that they master and apply the principles of active supervision.

Front-line management coaching can lead to operational gains, not only in terms of yield and material recovery but also in :

  • Product quality

  • Employee engagement

  • Health and safety

  • Environmental sustainability

Whatever sector they are in, whether it's agri-food, aerospace, manufacturing, construction, heavy industry, or another.

Front-line management coaching is a proven methodology for developing new management skills to improve performance management.

In terms of organizational performance improvement, this means:

  • Adapting to projected and fluctuating volumes

  • Increasing efficiency in cleaning and starting up the production line

  • Improving material yield and recovery

  • Etc.


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People-centric management to thrive in the face of labor shortages

Front-line management coaching not only influences companies’ operational performance - it intervenes at the human level.

In other words, it helps create work environments that promote well-being, personal fulfillment, and, more generally, employee engagement - with low turnover intention.

“I have seen our managers blossom through coaching. They are more present on the floor, more confident, and just rocking it with the DMS. The approach and the system gave them the ability to become strong leaders.” Karen Maynard, Human Resources Director, Zavida Coffee

4.5 million Americans left their jobs in the movement known as the Great Resignation in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the trend continues in time and space. In Canada, 62% of employees were thinking of quitting in 2021, compared to 49% in 2020, according to Hays Specialist Recruitment Canada.

Businesses that do well are those that focus on employee well-being and engagement, as well as their managers' ability to create and maintain a healthy work environment. These businesses will see their retention not only less affected but improved in the coming years.


Establish a strong management coaching culture

If you already have a front-line coaching culture in place, you might want to double down on it.

If you don't, now is the time to seek expert help in developing your managers' leadership and training internal coaches who will keep the coaching culture alive to sustain the benefits of best management practices.

Philippe Gautrin

Philippe Gautrin

General Manager, USA Phil Gautrin is an operations management expert who helps organizations achieve their business objectives through sustainable growth. Over the last 25 years, he has empowered businesses to increase their revenues, analyze their performance metrics, and develop new tools, systems, frameworks, platforms, and processes to increase efficiency.