CONTACT PATCH, the area of a car’s tyre that is in direct contact with the road surface at any given point, directly affects the quality of the ride. Whether the ride is smooth and safe depends to a large extent on the CONTACT PATCH. The size of the CONTACT PATCH differs between trucks and sedans. For trucks, the CONTACT PATCH is reportedly around 15% of the tyre whilst, for sedans, it may be as high as 20-25% depending on the width of the tyres, tyre pressure, and the ‘softness’ of the side walls. The point is, a small proportion of the entire tyre determines the ‘success’ of the trip. (See www.eng-tips.com for guidance on how to calculate the size of the contact patch.)
So what is the ‘CONTACT PATCH’ for your business? Where does the proverbial ‘rubber hit the road’ in your business? The answer to this question is varied and it will likely be impossible to find a definite answer. What is a fact is that a small portion of the whole of the business, ultimately determines its success. Are you clear in your own mind as to what the ‘contact patch(es)’ are for your business – the areas where you have to excel to ensure your competitiveness and sustainability?
The quality of first-line management is one of a few contact patches that directly affects
- competitiveness, and ultimately
- sustainability in all businesses.
If we lose our grip at the first-line management level, we’ll lose control and in all likelihood have to slow down. We look at first-line managers to be (amongst others) the ultimate implementers to be
- reliable, and
(R Meredith Belbin (2010); Team Roles at Work, Elsevier Ltd.)
The success of the first-line managers is directly and inextricably linked to the effectiveness of middle management – a further key contact patch. We look at these managers to turn strategies and ideas into practical action guidelines for first-line managers. We look at these middle managers to coach, guide and support first-line managers in their quest to achieve operating targets related to cost, quality, delivery reliability, and speed to name but a few. Are these contact patches within your business such that it ensures a smooth and safe ride?
As organisations and as employers, what do we do to assist this vital CONTACT PATCH to be a reliable and dedicated high-performing implementer?
The starting point is to continuously improve the engagement levels of first-line management which are characterised by, amongst others,
- dedication, and
- a sense of excitement about the task at hand.
Middle management must be up to the challenge to ensure first-line management engagement – no easy task!
The positive impact of engagement levels on performance has been widely publicised. An often overlooked fact is that the ‘mood’ of managers influences the ‘mood’ of followers – the so-called contagion effect. So, positive work-related engagement, emotions and attitudes of managers can be contagious.
How do we improve engagement?
The answer to this question is not simple and straightforward. One thing is sure though and that is that knowledgeable and skilled first-line and middle managers have the confidence to take the lead in being the CONTACT PATCH. Why not invest in the knowledge, skills, and capabilities of your company’s first-line and middle-management CONTACT PATCH?
With ODI’s National Certificate in Management (NQF Level 3 – Supervision for Energised Workteams) the manager of the first-line manager needs to coach his/her first-line managers, and is, as such, involved in the programme. A simple-to-use benchmarking system can be used for ongoing coaching and development.
ODI’s National Certificate in Generic Management (Energised Leadership NQF Level 5), is designed to enable a person to manage first-line managers in an organisational entity. First-line managers may include team leaders, supervisors, junior managers, section heads, and foremen. The focus of this qualification is to enable learners to develop competence in knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values.
Author: Albert Brink