Ever have a supervisor that never walked in your shoes? Ever have a supervisor that loved to tell you have to do something, but did not know how to do it themselves? Over the years, I have had plenty of them. Usually not for long! I just don’t understand how any supervisor can lead his/her team without doing the work too. I have always done exactly what my people have done. Building credibility with your team is extremely important!
It started back in that very first assignment as a new second lieutenant in the US Army. My assignment was motor pool officer in a reserve engineering company. We had plenty of vehicles and a bulldozer. I went out and got certified to operate every one of them. My commander was shocked by this. It sort of chalked it up to brand new reservist. Later on, the commander came to realize that this was a good thing. My platoon was working well – they aced everything that was set in front of them. It was something that had not done in quite sometime. Our Inspector General inspection was that first fall and I was tasked with taking the inspectors through the motor pool paperwork, equipment inspections and whatever they wanted. We aced that too! In fact, the Inspector General called out the fact that I was certified on everything and actually performed operation of the bulldozer perfectly. Having heard that and watching how well my platoon worked together – I learned that this was a good thing. I continued this practice with every other position that I had since.
Sometimes I would get some very strange looks from my managers. Why are you doing that? I would always bring up that very first ever work assignment with the US Army… I would make them a promise that it would work or they could find someone else to do my job. I am still surprised to this day, that many managers do not take them time to learn how, perform the tasks and understand exactly what has to happen to get the work done.
If there is one simple piece of advice to get to any new manager – walk a mile or so in the shoes of your team. Get to know exactly what they are doing. If you company has a certification program for the work – complete it. The time that you spend doing that were be paid back to you ten-fold. Your team will thank you. You will have a better understanding of how all the pieces fit together. You will also be a resource to making the work get done – if needed. All good stuff for a team!