First line managers are a burdened category of employees in many industrial organizations. Research in this area is limited by knowledge gaps regarding the managers' roles and assignments. The SPARK-project ReActS will change this.
The working conditions for first-line managers are often challenging with continuous changes in the working qualifications and high expectations from both employees and top management. This problem occurs in large number of companies, but the knowledge about strategies for dealing with daily issues and disruptions is deficient. In leadership research, studies about leadership among first-line managers in the industry are a relatively unexplored area.
ReActS - Resilient action strategies for first-line managers - is a project run in Jönköping University's research environment SPARK and which focuses on the role's difficulties.
- Many companies and organizations that we have been in contact with before have mentioned this as a major challenge. I have worked with change for many years and then the first-line managers have often been involved in the line of thinking, says Johan Karltun, associate professor in work organization at Jönköping University.
In the ReActS project, SPARK's research team collaborates with Scania and Fagerhult. The goal is to improve the conditions for first-line managers to carry out their assignments. This will be done by developing action strategies that are resilient, meaning sustainable and robust, and that enable managers to cope with problems and difficulties without being consumed themselves. In the project, data collection, analyzes and workshops are carried out in several stages together with the participating companies.
- The participating companies have entered into this innovative research with great enthusiasm and are keen to get employees in the project, says Johan Karltun.
The expected results for the project, which will be completed in 2022, will create benefits for both managers, the participating companies and other companies. For Scania and Fagerhult, the focus is on increased productivity, sustainability and robustness. The project will also deliver a handbook and make it clearer to companies what conditions they must create for first-line managers. For managers, the project must, among other things, result in consciously sustainable ways of managing their work and a clarification of the role's responsibilities.
- The context in each company naturally affects the action strategies, but in the end it must also provide industry-independent strategies that can work everywhere, says Johan Karltun.
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