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The frontline manager: fronting up to organisational change

Sebastian Hales (Writer and Education Consultant based at Sage Associates, Wellington, New Zealand)
Gordon Rabey (Writer and Management Consultant at Wellington, New Zealand)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 6 September 2011




The purpose of this paper is to propose an organisational structure not based on power and control but on the organic and functional processes of the front line.


These ideas arose from discussions about the roles and training needs of frontline managers, and frequent conflict between their organisational and functional roles.


Organisations that emphasise power and control functions, as symbolised in the organisational chart, often view solutions to efficiency, productivity and change in terms of the ability of senior managers to impose solutions on frontline staff, and the appointment of frontline managers for their ability to implement those solutions. However, more efficient, effective and creative solutions often result from developing dynamic and creative frontline teams, who can use their awareness of production, customer service and staffing issues to provide innovative organisational changes.

Practical implications

Organisations should appoint staff to frontline management positions based not on their ability to control but on their ability to provide leadership, functional facilitation and support to meet the purposes of the team.


The value of the paper lies in a proposed paradigm shift in organisational thinking from a model based on control to one based on functional team building.



Hales, S. and Rabey, G. (2011), "The frontline manager: fronting up to organisational change", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 43 No. 6, pp. 368-376.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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