Line managers play an essential role in the efficient running of all businesses.
They provide guidance and motivation to staff and ensure that the company operates smoothly.
For anyone with ambitions to work their way up the career ladder, it is a crucial step.
The role allows you to show your leadership skills and gives you direct exposure to senior management.
This article explains everything you need to learn about line management and provides a few tips to make sure that your application is as strong as possible.
Put simply, line management is an employment structure in which someone has direct responsibility for an employee or group of employees.
Usually, a line manager will, in turn, report to their superior, giving the organisation a clear chain of command.
An effective line manager operates as the link between the decision-makers at the top of the company and front-line workers.
A large part of their job is to ensure that the company’s objectives are communicated to front line staff while communicating any staff issues back up the chain of command.
Before you apply for a line management position, you should take the time to understand exactly what it involves.
Line management comes with a wide variety of responsibilities. This is both the appeal and the challenge of the role.
Being promoted to line manager isn’t as simple as being highly competent in your current job – the role requires a new set of skills.
You should set aside some time to think through your strengths and weaknesses before applying for a role.
We look at what the role requires in more detail below.
The biggest change people find when stepping into a line management role is that they are no longer responsible for their own success.
A line manager’s success depends on their team performing well.
This means that communicating clearly and confidently with your team is key.
If you have shown – both to yourself and to your superiors – that you can communicate clearly and confidently with colleagues and gain their trust, then you probably are ready to take the step up.
Line managers have a number of responsibilities that front-line work does not. Many people find the transition to line manager the most challenging of their career.
As a line manager, you are likely to have the following duties:
You will have oversight of the daily operation of your team, both as a collective and as individuals.
Maintaining your team’s productivity is your primary responsibility.
That starts with ensuring you are on top of all of your team’s performance data so that you can see who is meeting expectations and who is not.
Line managers set the goals for the company’s employees and communicate what’s expected of them.
You will need to provide clear, attainable targets for your team and then help them to achieve them.
This may involve using your expertise to educate a new member of staff or encouraging a less confident employee that they are competent and valued.
Each employee is different, and you will need strong interpersonal skills to understand how to get the best out of each member of your team.
See this article for more detail ondelegation and objective setting
Line managers are responsible for the career development of their team members.
They need to monitor staff development needs and pro-actively work with staff members to address them.
This could be mentoring, internal or external training.
Staff who feel that they are learning and growing tend to be highly engaged, so this is a great way to develop individual morale.
Line managers are in charge of delegating workloads, and it is important that tasks are distributed fairly.
An overworked team member is likely to feel stressed and unhappy, which could affect team morale – a good line manager will oversee workloads to ensure that nobody has an unreasonable volume of work and reallocate work where appropriate.
As a line manager, you will be expected to oversee the drawing up of rotas that are fair and meet the needs of your team and the business.
A happy team is a productive team. As a line manager, it will be your responsibility to look after your staff’s wellbeing.
This may be anything from noticing an increase in absence to recognising a change in someone’s behaviour.
Your duty is to spot the signs that an employee is struggling and take appropriate steps to resolve the situation.
Inevitably when you have a group of human beings working together at some point you will get conflict. Learning to manage conflict within your team is another crucial skill that you will need to develop.
Line managers bridge the gap between their team and human resources.
Day-to-day HR issues are dealt with by line managers supported by HR.
For example, if HR initiates a new policy, it will be your duty as line manager to ensure your employees understand it and act upon it.
As a line manager, you will have a long and varied list of duties, and you’ll need to build up the skills to match them:
Your success as a line manager is likely to hinge on your ability to communicate clearly and effectively.
Whether you’re providing a sympathetic ear or undertaking formal performance reviews, as a line manager, you will need to be able to interact with your team members in a variety of ways.
Every day as a line manager is likely to present new challenges, big and small. You will need to master communicating clearly.
Strong leadership is essential in a line management role, and you will need to gain the trust and respect of your team to ensure they follow your example.
A good line manager must be decisive and strong-willed. If you believe that your methods are best for business, it’s key that you show authority in your decision-making and trust your judgement.
Your employees will look to you for instruction, so you will need to show a willingness to be proactive. A good leader can anticipate potential problems, plan ahead and think creatively about ways to improve the business.
The era of managers being cold and unapproachable is long gone; in the modern world, your staff will look to you for support when they are struggling.
An ability to show empathy is important to ensure that your team is happy and productive at work. Knowing that their line manager cares about their wellbeing makes employees feel valued, which improves morale and performance.
As we have seen, a line manager role comes with a host of daily responsibilities. The ability to organise yourself and your work is vital.
You will need to be able to prioritise and delegate work.
Effective delegation will save you time and also offer your team the chance to develop their skills and build their confidence.
Once you have decided that you wish to apply for a line manager position, you will need to make your application as attractive as possible.
This starts with your covering letter – a short note attached to your CV that emphasises your suitability for the specific role you are applying for.
A good covering letter needs to catch the attention of your prospective employer and help you stand out from the other applicants.
Whereas your CV provides a factual account of your education and career history, your covering letter is an opportunity to let them know who you are and highlight your key strengths.
A cover letter is more personal than a CV and allows you to highlight the reasons they should ask you for an interview.
A covering letter should emphasise why you would make a good addition to their team and your reasons for applying.
The key to a good covering letter is brevity. Your letter should be no longer than one page in length but needs to provide as much detail as possible that shows you in a positive light.
Address your covering letter to the hiring manager and show that you have researched the company and the role.
Pick a couple of the strongest points about your skills and motivation and very briefly highlight them.
The aim of this is to ensure that you make the first cut. A good covering letter will never get you the job, but a bad one will make ensure that you don’t get it.
The video below possibly takes brevity too far but offers some really great tips.
While your covering letter allows prospective employers to learn about you as a person, your CV is a more objective summary of your life.
It should summarise your personal details, your academic achievements and, most importantly, your career history.
The first thing to consider is presentation. A poorly designed CV puts you at a disadvantage before it’s even been read. Make sure your CV looks professional.
Put your personal information at the top of your CV.
This acts as an introduction to your application and makes it easy for your employer to find your contact details.
Next, you should provide a brief personal statement. This should explain who you are and why you are right for the position.
This paragraph acts as a condensed version of your covering letter, so make every word count.
You will also need to provide a detailed history of the jobs you have held, starting with the most recent.
You should include the name of the company you worked for, your position, the start and end dates of each role and your responsibilities.
Make sure that you emphasise the areas in which you excelled in each role. Where possible, use facts and figures to back up your claims.
Saying ‘Increased sales by 57% over 12 months” is far more impactful than “Increased sales in first 12 months”.
If there are any gaps in your employment history, acknowledge and explain them as best you can.
It is also important to include brief details of your education. Again do this in reverse chronological order, so start with the most recent academic achievement.
Remember to keep your CV short. It should be no more than two sides of A4.
As we have seen, line management roles require a wide array of skills.
If you are passionate about your line of work and want to progress up the career ladder, then the first step is a line manager position.
Hopefully, you now know what is required and how to go about finding a role – good luck!