What Are First-Line Managers? (With Duties and Skills)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published June 10, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

There are many levels of management within organizations that help companies accomplish their goals. First-line managers are leaders who complete a variety of functions that enable organizations to perform well and flourish in their industry. Understanding more about the responsibilities of these managers and developing the skills required to succeed in the role can help you prepare for this management position. In this article, we define first-line managers, discuss what they do, provide steps on how to become one, highlight their salaries, and outline the skills required to excel in this role.

What are first-line managers?

First-line managers, also known as assistant managers or supervisors, are the administrators who oversee daily functions of a business. These managers deal directly with employees, and they are often accountable for making sure their team meets organizational objectives efficiently. These supervisors collaborate with team members and report to higher-ranking managers regarding the daily processes of a business.

What do first-line managers do?

First-line managers supervise a group of employees. They make sure that their team accomplishes the daily and primary objectives specified by the company. Because these managers work directly with employees, they impact many company functions. These supervisors know how to inspire team members, monitor targets, assess metrics, create work schedules, and ensure employees concentrate on accomplishing company goals. Depending on the type of business, front-line managers may perform the following functions:

  • collaborate with middle managers and directors

  • manage workflow by allocating responsibilities

  • analyze the work of employees

  • observe the work routine of team members

  • assess the performance of employees on their team

  • give feedback to team members about any concerns

  • recruit and train new team members

  • generate employee work schedules

  • resolve problems to improve efficiency of the company

  • handle the company's budgets

  • buy operational stock

  • develop and maintain processes

Related: 10 Manager Responsibilities in a Functional Organization

How to become a first-line supervisor

Here's a list of steps you can take if you are interested in learning more about how to become a first-line supervisor:

1. Achieve the company's objectives and surpass expectations in your current role

To prove to your employer that you can thrive in a supervisory capacity, ensure that you're currently achieving company objectives and going beyond the expectations of your present position. Doing this shows your dedication to the company and demonstrates your level of competence. Some soft skills, like time management and excellent communication, may transfer from one position to another, so concentrate on also developing these capabilities.

2. Convey your aim

If you're aspiring to a first-line supervisor position, share this goal with your supervisor. They may be oblivious to the fact that you're interested in the promotion. Speaking openly about your objectives can help others visualize you in the managerial role, and this may help you secure a management position.

3. Prove your capability to guide others

Front-line managers train and guide others successfully. If you can show this aptitude in your present position, there's a possibility that your manager or employer notices your efforts. This can encourage them to assign similar duties to you in the future.

4. Become a constant learner

Most successful assistant managers focus on their personal development and that of the company. To prepare for a role, consider the advice and direction offered by other outstanding supervisors and directors. Once you have secured a front-line manager position, make efforts to continue learning throughout your career. Maintaining this attitude can help you learn even more about successfully leading a team of employees.

5. Enhance the work of others by effectively using resources

Developing teamwork is one of the most important aspects of handling a team. To increase the work and efficiency of others, encourage team members to cooperate with each other and explore new practices. Demonstrating your dedication to development proves that you have what it takes to assume the role of a first-line supervisor.

Salary of a first-line supervisor

The national average salary of a front-line manager is $55,986 per year. The amount you make typically depends on your industry, knowledge, and experience. Another determining factor for your earning potential in the city and province or territory where you work.

Related: How to Negotiate Salary (With Examples)

Skills for a first-line supervisor

To succeed in this management role, it's important to understand how to inspire your team to meet the objectives of the organization. You can also excel in your role if you develop specific skills to enhance your performance and sustain a career-focused attitude. Here's a list of some essential skills for a first-line supervisor:

Problem-solving skills

Because first-line supervisors deal directly with team members, they are accountable to senior management and directors. During these consultations, they often share the progress of their teams and offer recommendations to deal with any efficiency lapses. This means that these managers can solve problems, generate optional plans, and apply them within departments promptly. Responding and adapting to changes that suddenly arise within the company is a critical skill.

Analysis skills

Entry-level managers often evaluate organizational performance indicators like profits or efficiency. They may require knowledge of important business operations or industry-related terms to carry out assessment of their team's development. These analysis skills enable front-line managers to understand where changes are necessary and when their department is most efficient. After successful analysis, these supervisors can generate plans, processes, and other operational proposals to help their team grow.

Communication skills

Front-line managers are often professional communicators who define a company's goals in ways that their team can easily comprehend, identify with, and visualize. They may use enticements or language to motivate their teams to achieve goals. These managers also use their communication skills to explain comprehensive directives and technical information.

These supervisors encourage fellow employees to accomplish company objectives and perform well in any situation. This is a crucial duty of front-line managers because motivated employees contribute to organizational efficiency. These managers also give feedback to help team members recognize areas requiring improvement to better accomplish goals.


Having empathy can make you a better supervisor, because it enhances your capability to assist and support your team whenever they require. For example, if a team member shares a personal problem, empathy allows you to identify with their problem and offer appropriate support. Team members who feel they have a supervisor who shows concern for their welfare tend to work hard and have a positive attitude, creating a pleasant work environment for the entire team.

Time management skills

Departmental managers often demonstrate the traits that companies hope to promote in their team members. This includes knowing how to manage their own time and that of their team members efficiently. They generate deadlines, allocate work schedules, monitor workflow, finish tasks on time, and develop benchmarks to supervise production procedures.

Organizational skills

The ability to nurture relationships and cooperate with other first-line supervisors within the company is crucial, particularly when executing strategic programs from senior management. Handling internal partners and guiding company policies to meet goals are fundamental skills for first-line supervisors. A key component of organizing a department's workload is prioritizing tasks. Once you have prioritized assignments, you can effectively accomplish your departmental goals and those of the entire business.

Strategic thinking

First-line supervisors require basic business skills to understand their company's planned priorities and how their department supports them. The ability to think strategically enables these supervisors to help ensure their operations and their team members work in line with the goals of the company. These skills also help managers make everyday decisions with the company's general success in mind.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organization and a candidate's experience, academic background, and location.

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