5 core principles of modern frontline communication

It’s never been more important for frontline employees to feel ready for anything before each shift. And having solid frontline communication and training strategies are the key to preparedness. Unfortunately, traditional frontline communication tactics, such as pre-shift huddles and time clock postings, can lead to oversights, misinterpretation and mistakes. Although frontline managers recognize these issues, many of the quick-fix solutions they turn to are only band aids covering up larger organizational problems.

Hand holding megaphone on color background

A frontline employee’s ability to make the right decisions in the right moments is critical to success—for them and the business. But frontline employees too often waste time and effort trying to find information to help them do their jobs better. Bad practices reduce the quality of your customer and employee experiences, but it’s not too late for your company to make changes toward communication that actually works with the way your frontline people work.

Yes, you can communicate timely, consistent information to your frontline in the moments that matter—no email address required.  

In a recent mini-episode of The 80 Percent, JD Dillon explored the role communication plays in frontline training. Here’s a quick summary of the 5 key principles of successful frontline communication that organizations should be thinking about right now.

1. Digitize

Imagine trying to do your job while having to wait for important information from a daily meeting or update pinned to a bulletin board. It’s just not practical. An agile training and support strategy gives employees the information they need to solve problems at the start of every shift. And it takes into account where employees are most likely to access the information. 

  • Are they using POS systems where they could access important communications? 
  • Do they have a shared device in a breakroom that’s a natural delivery mechanism?
  • Do you allow them to use their personal smartphones for work-related stuff?

Adopt digital messaging tools so your frontline can take advantage of modern technology and devices they already use at work every day.

2. Simplify

How can you make the process of receiving information simple for your employees on the frontline? Sifting through inboxes and browsing chat channels can be disruptive to their workflow. So keep it simple. Tailor your messages to each audience so the information they are receiving feels really targeted to their needs.  

3. Prioritize 

“When every message is important, no message is important”. Every department of your organization has information they believe is critical, but you may overwhelm your frontline trying to loop them in to every update. Help your employees receive the information they really need by collaborating with other departments on prioritization. Then communicate the things they need to know and keep the nice to know in an on-demand repository they can access as needed. 

4. Document 

Speaking of on-demand repositories, there’s one word to keep top of mind to make sure your frontline employees are getting right-fit support: easy. The information you store in your repository should be easy to find, easy to consume and easy to apply so they can quickly get what they need, and then get on with their shift.

5. Reinforce 

People forget what isn’t reinforced. It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the way our brains work. So you need to keep reminding your frontline of the key things you need them to do, because that’s what leads to long-term knowledge retention and, ultimately, behavior change. Try question-based reinforcement to make sure your frontline will remember the most important takeaways from your high priority messages in the moments that matter.

Confidence at work is a critical component of frontline success. Frontline employees can only excel in their roles if they’re sure they know what to do and when to do it. Streamlining your modern communication efforts will help your people make the right decisions throughout their day, in the moments that matter most. 

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