We were about half way through a three day supervisory skills program for new police sergeants when John came up and asked to talk. He had just made sergeant, even though he had been a police officer for more than ten years. He was one of the most respected officers in his department.
John put off taking the exam for promotion to sergeant because he was simply having too much fun working as a motorcycle officer. That changed when he realized how much a promotion would boost the pension he could now see on the horizon.
This would be his first supervisory job. He got right to the point.
“I don’t know,” he said. “This all makes sense, but I don’t know if it will work for me.”
I gave John the same response I gave to every other class member who had the same concern.
“Just try it. If it doesn’t work, don’t do it. If it does, great. Either way, please let me know.”
A couple of weeks later the work phone next to my bed rang at about 3 AM. I swung myself into a sitting position and picked up the receiver. It was John. I had forgotten that he was working the graveyard shift.
“Hey Bock,” he said, “This stuff works.”
Then he hung up, leaving me staring at the phone and smiling. John was a great police officer who became a great supervisor. Before he retired his peers and team members and bosses all rated him as a great boss.
John was constantly working at getting better. He was willing to try things that had worked for others, even if, at first, they didn’t seem like they’d work for him.
Way too many other people took the classes, read the books, and said, “I won’t do that. It’s just not me.” Every time I heard that line my blood started to boil.
Obviously, it’s up to you. You can act like a good boss or a bad boss. Either way, you reap the consequences. But don’t tell me that something that works for thousands of great bosses “just isn’t you.” Try some of those things and find out if they work for you.
Try showing up a lot. Try having conversations with the people on your team. Try praising people for their effort and their progress as much as you legitimately can.
Your challenge as a boss isn’t to be as comfortable as possible. It’s to do the best job you can helping your team and team members succeed. That means you’ve got to keep growing and developing.
So quit griping and posturing. Try what works for others. If it doesn’t work for you, try something else, but you’ll probably find that “this stuff works.”
Boss’s Bottom Line
You can’t grow and improve without trying new things. Start with what works for other to find out how it works for you.