Front line management

From CEOpedia | Management online

Front line management (also named FLM) is a line hierarchy structure where every manager have they own employees, and the group of managers has they own higher level manager[1]. In these model employees report only to their immediate manager, never to the manager of their manager. Manager is responsible for day-to-day running of employees work, but not for strategic matters. "The roles of such managers typically include a combination of the following activities[2]:

  • people management;
  • managing operational costs;
  • providing technical expertise;
  • organizing, such as planning work allocation and rotas;
  • monitoring work processes;
  • checking quality;
  • dealing with customers/clients;
  • measuring operational performance;"

Structure of relationship in FLM

In front line management are only two type of positions: manager and worker/employee (subordinate to the manager). Every manager can manage a certain numbers of employee. Every employee has only one manager, also managers (on the lower level) have only one manager on higher level. On the one hand, thanks to such a solution, the number of possible conflict situations decreases, on the other hand, when an employee wants to forward a message to the managing director, he must do so through all levels including every manager along the way. For this reason, there is a risk that the final message, when someone reaches to the managing director will make themselves different than it was in the intention employee. In addition, the message may not reach the managing director at all, because the manager only provides information that he considers important. On the other hand, if he has to give instructions to an employee coming from above, he can sometimes add extra tasks to do. A large number of management levels can cause a deaf phone effect. Therefore, it is necessary to limit situations in linear structure in which information must run through many levels.

Advantages of FLM

Advantages of front line management are:

  1. Each employee reports job done only to one supervisor, which allows discipline to be maintained and facilitates contact.
  2. The manager orders the execution of tasks, issues instructions and accounts for their implementation, and provides guidance. Thanks to this cooperation stronger relationships between an employee and the manager are built, which in turn translate into the effectiveness and efficiency of the employee's work.
  3. There is no dispersion of responsibility. In the case of deficiencies or defects of the performed work, it is easy to assign responsibility and identify the cause of the shortcomings.
  4. Decisions can be made quickly due to the short flow of information and direct contact between the supervisor and the employee.

Disadvantages of FLM

Disadvantages of front line management are:

  1. In front line management model, centralization is maintained at a very high level, which strongly makes the whole enterprise dependent on one decision-making person.
  2. Due to the one-man management, the management flexibility is low, and in the intensified periods it is difficult to coordinate the actions of all subordinate managers and employees.
  3. Lack of specialists results in the problem of quickly obtaining reliable and reliable information, helpful in making management decisions on highest level.
  4. The highest level management must have extensive knowledge about the functioning of the entire enterprise, its specificity and the functioning of individual cells.
  5. In the case of a manager's absence, an official way of communication may be interrupted. Thus, the transfer of information and delegation of tasks is very difficult. This has a negative impact on the functioning of the entire institution and the implementation of tasks.

Solutions to improve FLM

Front line management are not perfect structure, but following by Michael Armstrong we can see solutions, how to improve FLM, by behavior of front line managers in human resources management field[3]:

  • Front line managers need not only time for duties related to management in a strict sense, but also for proper management of human resources.
  • They should be selected in an appropriate manner, with due regard to the required behavioral competencies and line structure of the company.
  • Managers should be supported by strong organizational values in the management of both leadership and human resources.
  • Every manager needs to have a good relationship with his own manager and take care of them.
  • They will be properly trained in terms of competences so that they can perform their duties related to human resources management or their efficiency.

First mentions about FLM

The first mention of linear structures can be found even in the Exodus from the Old Testament[4]. They are therefore known for thousands of years and widely used not only in modern military structures, but also in ancient roman armies.

Examples of Front line management

  • Human Resources Manager: A Human Resources Manager is responsible for recruiting, hiring, and training staff, creating and managing employee policies, and resolving employee disputes. They are also often responsible for ensuring compliance with labor laws and other regulations.
  • Sales Manager: A Sales Manager is responsible for creating and executing sales strategies, overseeing a team of sales representatives, and ensuring customer satisfaction. They are also often responsible for setting and achieving sales goals, managing the sales budget, and meeting with customers.
  • Production Supervisor: A Production Supervisor is responsible for overseeing the production process, managing staff, and ensuring that production goals are met. They are also often responsible for scheduling shifts, monitoring quality control, and maintaining a safe work environment.
  • Facility Manager: A Facility Manager is responsible for overseeing the maintenance of a facility, including scheduling repairs, providing janitorial services, and managing the budget. They are also often responsible for ensuring compliance with safety regulations and resolving safety issues.

Other approaches related to Front line management

Front line management is just one of the many approaches to managing employees and resources in an organization. There are several other approaches that can be used to ensure the management of resources is efficient and effective.

  • Autocratic Management: Autocratic management is an approach in which a manager makes all of the decisions without any input from the team or employees. This style of management is often seen as authoritarian and can be detrimental to employee morale.
  • Democratic Management: Democratic management is the opposite of Autocratic management, in which the manager seeks input and feedback from their team to make decisions. This approach is often seen as more collaborative and can lead to better engagement from employees.
  • Transformational Leadership: Transformational leadership is an approach in which the manager seeks to motivate and inspire their employees to reach their goals. This type of leadership focuses on developing the team and creating an environment where employees feel empowered to do their best work.
  • Servant Leadership: Servant leadership is an approach in which the manager sees themselves as a servant, rather than a leader, to the team. This type of leadership focuses on helping the team and providing support and guidance to ensure their success.
  • Laissez-Faire Leadership: Laissez-faire leadership is an approach where the manager takes a hands-off approach and allows the team to determine their own goals and make their own decisions. This type of leadership can lead to better decision-making, but can also be seen as a lack of leadership.


  1. Hutchinson S., Purcell J. (2003)
  2. Armstrong M. (2006)
  3. Armstrong M. (2006)
  4. Exodus (2014)

Front line managementrecommended articles
Centralized organizational structureLevels of managementPrinciples of delegationStaff authorityDelegation of authorityFunctional authorityCharacteristics of bureaucracyBureaucratic leadershipOrganizational dependence


Author: Gabriela Lupa