Front line management

Front line management
See also

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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[edit]

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.


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


Author: Gabriela Lupa